Peaches, Cranberry, Harvest, Maple Syrup, Strawberry – America’s Heartland

>>Hi I’m Rob Stewart. Who doesn’t like
a great dessert or something sweet
from time to time? Coming up, we’ll meet
some farm folks delivering sweet,
delicious treats. We’ll take you down
South where one farm family has been harvesting
sweet and juicy peaches for almost a century. Cranberries are
a popular dish when holidays roll around. We’ll head for Massachusetts
where harvesting the round red berries is a
lot harder than you think. We’ll meet a Vermont family
tapping into the promise of sweet maple syrup. And this California farm
family is counting on strawberry fields forever. It’s all coming up
on America’s Heartland. ♪♪ >>America’s Heartland is
made possible by… CropLife America-
Representing the companies whose modern
farming innovations help America’s farmers
provide nutritious food for communities
around the globe. >>The Fund for
Agriculture Education – A fund created by
KVIE to support America’s Heartland
programming. Contributors include
the following: ♪♪ You can see it in the eyes
of every woman and man ♪♪ ♪♪ In America’s Heartland,
livin’ close to the land ♪♪ ♪♪ There’s a love
for the country ♪♪ ♪♪ And a pride
in the brand ♪♪ ♪♪ In America’s Heartland ♪♪ ♪♪ Livin’ close…
close to the land ♪♪ ♪♪ >>Hey there,
thanks for joining us on America’s Heartland. We all know that fruits
and vegetables are important to a healthy diet. And it makes it easier
to stick to that diet if our choices include
something that tastes good. Well the good news is that whether you’re picking up
fruit at the farmers market, traveling to a you-pick farm,
or reaching for peaches, plums, or pears
at the supermarket, we’re all eating more fruit
than we did a generation back. The Department of
Agriculture says that fresh fruit consumption,
in particular, is up by more than 25 percent alone,
and that figure could grow. Increasing numbers of
Farm to School programs and nationwide farm to table
efforts are delivering more fresh fruits and vegetables
directly to homes and schools This is all good news to
growers in the heartland whose farms and orchards are
working to meet that demand. One of those farms
is centered in the heart of South Carolina’s
peach country, run by a family that’s been
picking the sweet fruit for almost a century. ♪♪ It’s the busiest
week of the year at McLeod Farms in McBee,
South Carolina. It’s the height
of the harvest and there are ripe peaches
everywhere you turn! ♪♪ Kemp McLeod calls these
peaches ‘Mac’s pride,’ and on this mid-July day, they’re perfect
for the picking! >>We’ll pick ’em five
times over about, about, yeah, five to six times. And we’ll probably pick ’em
over the next ten days. We’re trying to pick
every peach that’s ready and because we got so many
orchards to go over. >>The McLeod fruit trees
spread across miles of the Carolina countryside. 650 acres with
workers picking each piece of fruit by hand. >>I know what
variety gets ready, I know what characteristics. And these fellows here have
been with me twenty years, he knows what to look for. So I, everybody
out here, they’re- they’re tuned in on
what we need to do. >>The McLeods grow more than
20 varieties of peaches. Kemp says the Winblo is the most popular peach
in the South. >>About behind the
man right there. >>The picking and packing
to keep fruit on the shelf demands coordination in
growing and harvesting. >>OK watch the top, that’s
what we’re looking for, that, this guy’s
doing a good job. A peach cannot be stored, so what we do is we
grow different varieties to fit different ripening so we have a continuous
flow of peaches. >>I see… >>So we try to pick a peach
that will crop, y’know, consistently has good
shelf life that can work. >>Off the tree, containers
of the peaches will roll down the road to the
McLeod packing house. The peaches will be sent
through a cold water bath to cool them from
the field heat. They’ll be sorted by
shape and size, then packed and shipped. How many peaches can move
through here in a day? >>Roughly about
seven hundred bins can be picked a day
and we also can pack about ten thousand boxes per day. And that’s half a
million peaches. >>Kemp’s son, Spencer,
returned to the farm after college and oversees
the packing house operations. Much of the fruit will go
from field to consumer in less than 24 hours. Spencer, why did you pull
this one out of the batch? >>This one’s ready
to eat; it’s ripe. It has a- it’s a
little bit soft. That’s the way I like
to eat my peaches. Sometimes the
peaches can be firm when they’re at the
grocery store. You want to give that a
chance to ripen up and that’s when I like to
either set it out, don’t put it in the
refrigerator. >>South Carolina is
the number one state for peach production
in the South. The McLeod peaches will
ship all across the country and even into Canada. They are ripe and
ready to go. >>Yes, sir. These are ripe peaches, Winblos, and they’re
ready to eat right now. We’re gonna take these
straight to our store, put ’em on the self, ready for people to
make a pie or eat fresh. >>What do people say to you about why they keep
coming back for this? >>Well, you gotta
have a good peach. You gotta make a
good product. If it looks pretty… and that’ll sell it
the first time. But if it tastes good,
everybody’s gonna come back. >>Those peaches, headed for
the McLeod retail outlet, are popular with customers
from all across the region. They show up here to
purchase peaches, peach cobbler, peach pie,
peach ice cream. You’ve tasted them
from other places. >>Georgia. >>From Georgia. >>Of course, the Georgia
peach is supposed to be the best peach,
but we would have to say, these peaches,
they’re better. >>What is the appeal? Why come, for some people
far, to eat this? >>It’s fresh and it’s
home grown, and y’know it’s in Chesterfield County,
we love it. >>Mmhmm… does home grown
matter to you Susie? >>Yes. >>Why. >>Because it
supports our state, and our local businesses,
those sorts of things. >>So it’s more than
just good flavor for you, it’s knowing that you’re
supporting your roots. >>The roots and
the businesses, and the families and
all that participate in it. >>Alright, well taste it! >>Taste it,
have you had any? >>Not unless you’re sharin’. >>Get you a spoon. >>Alright, let’s just… I’m goin’ have a
bite of yours. May I? >>Mmhmm. >>Mmm, I see why you drive
all the way over here. >>[laughs] >>Nice to see you!
[laughing] That fresh picked flavor
is part of the pride for the McLeods. Pride in a product
that has deep roots in these fields and
this community. Kemp is the fourth generation of McLeod famers
young Spencer, the fifth. I look at your hat and
it says, Mac’s Pride. >>Right, right. >>What is that pride to you? >>Well, I mean,
it’s more like… it’s our family life.
Y’know, it’s our family. It’s- the farm is our family
and our family is our farm. >>You think your daddy
would be proud? >>I think Dad would be-
would be very proud. ♪♪ >>South Carolina grows
more than just peaches. The Palmetto State is home to one of the few tea
plantations in the U.S. Farmers here also
grow gingko, a popular medicinal herb. And if you like okra, you’ll
want to stop by Irma, South Carolina for their
annual Okra strut festival. >>A lot of us would agree
that holidays like Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the
same without cranberries. Whether you like them
jellied or whole, the colorful fruit is the
perfect addition to the meal. And if you want a fruit
that’s truly American look no further than
the cranberry. The red berries were being
used for food and fabric dyes long before the first
European settlers arrived. Our Sarah Gardner says
cranberries have been part of both American history and the history of one
particular family. ♪♪ >>We landed in with the
Mayflower in 1620, the surname Walker
came in 1635, and my mother’s family
landed in 1632. That’s hundreds of-
of years of a tradition. >>Annie Walker is the owner
of Annie’s Crannies cranberry farm on
Massachusetts’ Cape Cod. It’s a unique
farming operation dating back before
the American Revolution. >>With the exception of
36 years, this land has only been worked by
the Nobscussett Indian Tribe, the Hall family,
and the Walker Family. >>A number of native
varieties of cranberries grow in the wetland
bogs of Massachusetts. The state has some
fourteen thousand acres devoted to the
bright red fruit. >>What I grow is called
‘Howes,’ H-O-W-E-S. The Howes berry was
cross-pollinated and cultivated on Scargo Lake
here in Dennis in 1847. So when it came time for me
to renovate the bog, I chose to plant Howes berries
because it’s native to here. >>Cranberry production here
is so rooted in antiquity that even crop yields are
measured differently. No bushels here,
think instead of barrels like those found on
old sailing ships. >>A barrel is approximately
a hundred pounds. I think the average for Howes
is about 120 barrels an acre. And on my best year I’ve grown over 450 barrels
to the acre of Howes. >>There are two methods
of harvesting cranberries, wet pick and dry pick. >>The wet pick cranberries
represent about 95 percent of all the cranberries
in Massachusetts. They’re ultimately gonna
be used in juice, sauce, sweet and dry cranberries,
those sort of products. And it’s a
three-day process. The first day they
flood the bog. Then they drive out with
harvest machines, and they literally knock the
cranberries off the vines. And they float to the surface because they have
air pockets inside of ’em. And then the third part of
it they corral the fruit and pump it off of the bog
and into the trucks. >>Annie, who prefers selling
cranberries as fresh fruit, employs the dry pick
method using a motorized, walk-behind harvester. >>It’s got teeth
on the front, which is like combing your
hair, so when you dry pick, you always go in the same
direction around clockwise. And the paddle push the
berries up into a burlap bag. >>She also uses a
two-handed comb scoop for the edges of the bog. >>This scoop is
from about 1950. It weighs about
three pounds… empty. And that’s all I do. So I go in here and
scoop the edges and rock it forward
and pull forward. What it- what it does
is it leaves the vine, it pulls up all the runners, and then I go back and
I hand prune this with a pruning rake to get
rid of these runners. >>The crop eventually makes
its way to a separator, this one built more than
a hundred years ago. >>This is still how
they do them in market is in through
these separators. There’s been nothing new
invented since 1905. When they go in the separator
there’s bounce boards. A good dry berry bounces. They have chances to hit
the board and bounce forward. If they hit the board and
it doesn’t bounce forward, it will drop to the
rotten bins in the bottom. Those actually become…
juice. So we check the front. This looks like a
happy hive. We’ll see if they’re happy. >>With bees necessary to
pollinate the cranberry crop, Annie maintains hives
all around her bogs. >>If the bees don’t
kiss the flowers, we don’t get cranberries-
it’s that simple. >>In addition to established
honeybee colonies, farmers here are
attracting native bees, butterflies and
other pollinators by growing certain
kinds of wildflowers. >>’Cause you don’t
want plants that are going to compete and
be a pest on the bogs. You also don’t want
them to be in bloom when the cranberries
are in bloom. >>The bees are happy,
we’re happy, ’cause they have to
pollinate the food source. So, if this helps get
them through the winter, this will give them a fall
honey source for the winter, then next spring-summer
when I need my bog is in full bloom in the end of
June through mid-July, then the bees will be happy, they’ll stay here and
they’ll go out on the bog. The best part of this
experience is that I’m able to save something
that my grandfather, great-grandfather,
great-great-grandfather did and pass it on
to the next generation. The best day of the year
for me is a Labor Day party where the whole family
comes and partakes. And that, sharing it with
the family, is the best. ♪♪ >>Do you like
cranberry juice? The Phytochemicals
in cranberries are a good source of
healthful anti-oxidants. But cranberry juice is no
new health food invention. Early settlers to
New England began consuming cranberry
juice in the 1600s. And the vitamin C in fresh
and dried cranberries helped early American sailors
prevent scurvy while at sea. ♪♪ >>We picked some sweet,
juicy peaches earlier. Let’s serve up another
sweet farm product that comes from a tree. Now this is not
something that you pick like an apple or an orange. Like the cranberry, it has a
place in American history and it’s definitely
something you’ll want on your breakfast table if pancakes or waffles
are coming your way. ♪♪ It’s a late winter ritual
older than America itself as these snow-covered New England mountains
begin to thaw. >>Ah man, nice and full. >>The farmstead hills and
valleys of Vermont come alive with the annual sound
of maple syrup being made. ♪♪ It is tree-tapping time and within seconds,
the sap is flowing. >>That sound there is music
to a sugar maker’s ear, that drip, drip, drip. [motor starting] >>Arnold Coombs’ family
has been sugar making, as they call it,
for 7 generations. Today he’s tapping a
tree that was planted decades before the
Declaration of Independence. [chink of hammer
tapping spile] >>Well this is the
method that’s been used for well over 100 years. Where you drill a hole
into the tree, it’s a little bit bigger
than the plastic one, drive a metal spout
into the tree, and just hang a bucket
on it with a cover. >>This sugar house is
where Arnold’s cousins boil the sap down
into maple syrup. It’s a slow process as
water in the sap evaporates over a wood burning fire. As outside temperatures warm, maple sap will flow
for several weeks. It takes about
ten gallons of sap to make just one
quart of syrup. Wow… how long did
this take to fill up? >>On a perfect day,
you can fill it in one day. That’s 4 gallons of sap. >>Four gallons… okay. >>So that would be 40% of
your crop in one day. >>Wow. >>But seldom do you
get that. >>Just across the Vermont
border in New Hampshire, syrup runs in the family
for Bruce Bascom as well. >>My great-grandfather moved to… to part of this
property in 1853. He was taping maybe
500 trees- probably in wooden buckets. >>But times have changed
and maple means money. Bascom maple farms is one
of the biggest producers of maple syrup in the world. They take a more
modern approach. So these trees were here when
you were a little kid, huh? >>They were about 4 inches-
4 inches in diameter when I was in grammar school. >>Well come in here and
show me how this works, because it looks
really, really cool. Everywhere you look there
is a sea of taps and tubes. Today they are filled
with flowing sap. >>You see the bubbles moving? And what it does, is
you’re using up about half a dozen of these hooked
together into a larger pipe. See, sap is
flowing right now. >>Bruce has 24 hundred
acres, 63 thousand trees, woven together by a
plastic tubing system, that makes Maple Mountain
farming high tech. >>And you can see with
the newer technology and the plastic tubing you can
consolidate it all into one spot so one person
can actually obtain sap from trees that are in remote
hill sides, like there, you’d never gather
buckets with a pail, it’d be almost impossible
on that slope. >>Right across
from the crop, Bruce can boil 4,000 gallons
of sap an hour, thanks to a reverse
osmosis machine, which quickly removes water
from sap for processing. Bottle after bottle,
barrel after barrel, and box after box,
is filled with syrup, and shipped for
sale worldwide. The push for this
product is on. >>What’s happened is
the demand in Asia, like Japan, Korea, China,
all through Europe, demand in the United States,
is way up, and so there’s- it’s a specialty crop that they can’t make in
the other countries. >>Translation, a cash crop. The beginning of
the 21st century brought a rise in
price per gallon. The sweet success has us in
the mood for some tasting! >>You have to drink it all
the way down, you know. Whatever’s left
we’ll let him eat >>Mmm…
man that is delicious. Bruce grades each barrel
with this device he calls his color comparator. But Bruce can even
walk into a room and smell the grade of syrup! I imagine you’ve had quite a
few sugar highs. [laughing] >>Well you can taste several
hundred barrels in a day but you don’t want
to break for lunch. It works good to sit down
after about 15 minutes, have a glass of water, have a
pickle, something that’s sour >>There is nothing sour about
this booming maple industry that is branching out across New England and Canada
with liquid gold. But it all began with a tree, something Arnold Coombs
never forgets. As a sugar maker, do you feel a connection
with these trees? >>Oh I do, especially there’s
a older tree out back and every time I tap it I
just kind of give it a pat, you know, and every time I
gather, it’s like- thank you. [laughing] You know they’re giving
up some sap for us, so I do appreciate that. ♪♪ >>Although maple
trees grow in Europe, Europeans were unaware of the potential uses of
the sweet sap until colonists learned how to tap the
trees from Native Americans. When Britain imposed
heavy taxes on sugar the maple sweetener
became even more popular. >>If you took a survey
on favorite desserts, strawberries would certainly
be near the top of the list. Think about it,
strawberry shortcake, strawberry tarts,
strawberry pie. Team up strawberries
with rhubarb or lemon and you have even more choices. Well, our Akiba Howard
takes us to California where one farm family sees a sweet future in raising
these ripe, red berries. ♪♪ >>Enjoy a day at a fair or festival anywhere
in the heartland and it’s a good
bet that strawberries will be a popular pick
on the snack food menu. ♪♪ That’s certainly the case at this festival in
Santa Maria, California: a town surrounded by fields
of the bright, red berries. Daren Gee knows a lot
about strawberries. He’s been growing them
for more than 25 years. >>I think we did over 100
pallets for ’em on Tuesday. >>Daren and his brothers raise hundreds of
acres of strawberries with the help of some
12 hundred employees. >>Everyone has a very
important part to play, regardless of what
portion of the business they’re involved in. If they can do that to
the best of their ability they’re gonna to help
everyone else. >>California
leads the country in strawberry production
with some 500 growers planting more than 35
thousand acres of berries. Daren’s DB specialty farms is
located in the rolling hills of California’s
Central Coast which have an almost perfect
climate for Strawberries. >>We have one of the best
weathers on the coast. It’s not too hot in the day and it’s not
too cold at night. >>On this spring morning,
Daren and his crew are harvesting strawberries
to be shipped across the country and enjoyed on
a very special Sunday. >>We’re getting ready
for the Mother’s Day pull and Mother’s Day,
as it turns out, is the number one
strawberry day of the year. >>Really? >>Yeah, more strawberries
are consumed on that day than any other day in
the whole entire year. ♪♪ >>Daren’s crew is picking
a strawberry variety called the Albion. Daren and University of
California plant breeder, Doug Shaw have
worked together to foster new varieties. They call it building
a better berry. >>The process of releasing
a strawberry variety takes about seven years
from the time we make a cross to the time we release it
to the industry. This is our primary
seedling test plot. This is the first stage
of our field testing. If you look out here,
each one of these plants is a potential cultivar
in our program. >>Doug typically
starts out with about 10,000 seedlings
in the test plot which eventually researchers
will narrow down to an ideal cultivar
through cross breeding. Once satisfied with
their new breed, researchers create
genetically identical copies of the plant otherwise
known as runner plants. >>If you look at Daren’s
field for example, and you look at the
Albion cultivar, each one of those plants
in his field traces to the runners that came
from a single plant out here. >>The technology and
chemistry have vastly changed the industry
in just one generation. >>I think if you put somebody
in a strawberry field that was a strawberry
grower forty years ago, they wouldn’t recognize it
at all today. >>We’ve had absolutely
massive changes. I mean the consumption
of strawberries in the United States is
definitely hard to believe, I mean last year we-
we sold 172 million boxes of strawberries in
the United States. >>Which keeps Daren
and his crew planting multiple strawberry
crops year round. >>Every one of these
plants were hand planted. Every single one of ’em. We planted this year
16 million of them. >>Out of the field, the strawberries are
sent off to be cooled. >>It’s 85,000 square feet
of cooling space. We have to get them all
the way down to 34 degrees, 33 degrees, as close to
freezing as we possibly can without freezing them. Then what we do is wrap
’em up in like a plastic and suck all the oxygen out
and put CO2 in. Now the C02 is to reduce
the aging process. >>And from there, they make
their way to grocery stores as well as being
shipped overseas. >>California Giant
markets these strawberries all over the
United States, Canada and we’re scheduled to go into
France sometime in mid-May. >>Research, planting,
harvests and sales, challenges faced
by farmers here and all across the heartland. >>It’s the challenge of
dealing with nature and being successful at it because she’s
really competitive and then having
a product that people can eat and enjoy and
that’s actually nutritious. I love strawberries. ♪♪ >>Lots of sweet and tasty
things on the show this week, I am ready for dessert. Hey, before we go let
me remind you about our America’s Heartland website. You’ll find video from all
of our programs, recipes and lots of information
about agriculture in America. That’s And if you like social media,
you can connect to us through some of
your favorite sites. We’ll see you next time right
here on America’s Heartland. >>You can purchase a DVD or
Blu-ray copy of this program. Here’s the cost: To order, just visit us
online or call 888-814-3923 ♪♪ ♪♪ You can see it in the eyes
of every woman and man ♪♪ ♪♪ In America’s Heartland,
livin’ close to the land ♪♪ ♪♪ There’s a love
for the country ♪♪ ♪♪ And a pride
in the brand ♪♪ ♪♪ In America’s Heartland ♪♪ ♪♪ Livin’ close…
close to the land ♪♪ >>America’s Heartland is
made possible by… >>CropLife America-
Representing the companies whose modern
farming innovations help America’s farmers
provide nutritious food for communities
around the globe. The Fund for
Agriculture Education – A fund created by KVIE
to support America’s Heartland
programming. Contributors include
the following:


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