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Growing cranberries no longer an exclusive for Dutch island

Brabant competition for Terschelling

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

OSS - It is believed that cranberries were introduced to the Netherlands by chance in 1839, when a cargo vessel sank off the Frisian island of Terschelling. There, the berries, dumped in the dunes by disappointed beachcombers, found fertile soil, eventually creating a limited agricultural endeavour that until now remained an exclusive for the northern island.

In far-away Oss, halfway between the cities of Den Bosch and Nijmegen, about 70,000 cranberry bushes recently were planted on a four-acre site. The project of the non-government agency Landscape Management was funded by the provincial government of Noord-Brabant as part of its effort to redevelop some of the regional countryside. Researchers of the University Wageningen, the former Agricultural College, conducted soil and plant testing as well as a commercial feasibility study. Landscape Management already has secured a contract for 75 percent of the crop.

The Brabant-grown cranberries also will be used to enhance existing regional products or to create new local specialties, such as bakery or dairy products. A regional brewer has shown interest in the cranberry operations as well, hoping that the flavour could be used to brew a special beer.

Cranberries, ingrained in American traditions ever since the Pilgrims and Indians sat down for the first Thanksgiving dinner, also are known in the Netherlands by their Dutch name veenbessen (peat berries), or lepeltjesheide (little spoons heather). The berries also have medical applications.