Carver farmer Dom Fernandes has been growing cranberries by traditional methods for many years. But he recently decided to change it up a bit and delve into the niche market of organic fruits.

Carver farmer Dom Fernandes has been growing cranberries by traditional methods for many years. But he recently decided to change it up a bit and delve into the niche market of organic fruits.


With the ever-increasing public interest in producing and purchasing foods free from potentially dangerous chemicals, organic farming has bloomed into a booming business. Fernandes decided to join in.


His Fresh Meadow Farm three-acre bog on Main Street has undergone a radical change over the last couple of seasons in his effort to offer fresh dry-harvested berries free of pesticides and other chemicals.


Fernandes said it is a hit-or-miss process that diminishes the yield but offers a different product to health-conscious consumers.


“You really have to worry about the insects,” he said. “But if you can control them and the weeds, you’ll have a yield.”


He said he just wanted to try something different and see if he could produce enough berries through organic practices to make it worthwhile. So far, he said, so good.


To be certified as organic, the fruits must be produced without synthetic fertilizers and chemical pesticides and herbicides. Although organic farmers risk losing crops to pests and invasive weeds, a natural ecological balance can develop if bogs are given time to adjust and are properly maintained. Of course, the benefits are far reaching and include preventing chemicals from reaching water sources. Water, in fact, becomes one of the most important natural insect eradicators.


“We flood the bog for a month in the spring to help kill any bugs,” Fernandes said. “It works pretty well.”


Over time, the vines become resistant to disease and offer higher yields for the patient farmer. Beneficial insects such as spiders, bees, and wasps -and even birds- are encouraged and lend free help to the organic farmers to assist keeping insects in check. It is a delicate balance, though. Fish emulsion is often used as a natural fertilizer to help keep the plants healthy and productive. Fernandes’ vines are of the antique early blacks cranberry variety that has been cultivated in Carver for generations. It is a slower growing lower yield vine than many of today’s hybrid varieties, but it lends itself perfectly to the organic farming method.


“It’s been going very well,” he said. “We were really busy this weekend.”


He is currently harvesting the organic fruits for sale at his roadside farm stand and plans to be open weekends through Columbus Day if the fruits are still available. Look for the sign at the edge of the roadway.