Posts filed under Photo Essay

Photo Essay: Cherry Blossoms

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One of my favorite times of year in DC is cherry blossom season. For two weeks, the cherry blossoms bloom and show off their delicate splendor along the tidal basin where the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial stands prominently on one end, the FDR next to it, and the Jefferson Memorial on the other. A relative B&H of cameras and camera equipment, the basin is chockfull of families strolling, couples picnicking, friends paddle boating, children laughing, and pets meandering. Highly variable due to weather conditions, peak bloom is determined not more than 10 days in advance by the National Parks Service. Peak bloom is declared when about 70% of the Yoschino cherry blossoms bud. Every year tens of thousands of tourists and area residents visit the blossoms celebrating the 1912 gifting of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of DC. A festival marks this time of year with special events, performances, parade and and a 10-mile race. Walking along the circular path, one of the fun moments of the morning was capturing these photos of children playing. This one boy in the blue just sat underneath the cherry blossom tree looking so zen and adorable. His dad was obliging and let me take a snap of his son as he chilled and played with his game. Like the blooms making its entrance to greet the spring, I feel the 100,000+ who come to see the blossoms are doing the same. So bare those limbs, lather the spf, put on your sunnies, and take some time to enjoy the little moments of nature that grace our city. Spring is here, we be out!

Outfit Details: Nicole Richie for Macy's Geometric Sweater // Versace for H&M gold-plated pleated crocodile palm tree skirt // J.Crew McAllister wedge booties // Foxy Originals earrings // Anarchy Street bracelet

Photos: Sarah and James Bayot

Posted on April 15, 2014 and filed under Photo Essay.

Editorial: She Is Not Her Hair

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Good hair days, bad hair days – we’ve all had them. Whether you don a long mane or sport a cute and edgy cut, a person’s relationship with their hair is a close and enduring one. Marking significant moments in life, an outlet for self-expression or good ol’ adornment, one’s hair can be straightened, curled, colored, teased, put up, put down, pulled to the side, grown or chopped. For better or for worse, its malleability affords us some control over our appearance. A year and a half ago, I voluntarily chopped off my hair as I was about to enter into a new season of life and personal growth. It was a symbolic act that I felt I needed to mark physically to match the change that I felt inside. For some people, changing their hair is not a voluntary act. It happens to them as a result of genetics or a catastrophic health event. This happened to my friend, Carolina, a musician and singer who recently transplanted to DC from Seattle for a year-long internship. 

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When she found out she was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer at the age of 24, she prepared herself for battle but had to face the eventuality that the battle would take her long, thick hair as a casualty. I sat down with her one chilly but bright afternoon and we talked about what it was like to get the diagnosis at such a young age and walk through the process of treatment. Now in recovery, Carolina shared that hair is certainly a piece of her identity but it certainly isn’t the whole picture or the sole marker of her womanhood. After our chat, we put down our tea and traipsed around the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood. My friend and photographer extraordinaire, Erica captured these fun shots of Carolina and her new do, which is adorable. I mean, crop cuts are all the rage, right?

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One year ago, Carolina sent in her application to a local church’s internship program to intensively learn, serve and work in their music/worship department. Around the same time, she began feeling stomach pains and continued to feel those symptoms for a week. Deciding to have this mysterious pain checked out, Carolina went to the doctor where they conducted an ultrasound and identified a mass. She was told she would need surgery the following day. When the pathology reports came back, Carolina was diagnosed with stage 2B ovarian cancer. While the doctors were able to take out the tumor and cancerous tissues, Carolina was told she would need to undergo a 9-week chemotherapy program.

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If you have a chance to meet Carolina, you will quickly realize three things 1) she is super fun 2) she is an optimist and 3) she has a gorgeous voice (I’m banking that she will sing for you when you meet her). Her optimism and ability to focus on the good things in life helped her deal with the startling news. When asked about the emotions she felt at the time, she said, “I wasn’t at the worst case scenario and thinking my plans and aspirations were thrown out the window even though that could have been the case. My whole experience was surreal in that I was astonished at how much peace was poured out over my life. That’s how I would describe my experience to my family or friends. When I was going through it, it wasn’t the best time and I would have bad days. But I felt that there was this peace poured out over me and I felt protected by God and my family. Being surrounded by people helped pushed me towards knowing that not all was lost.”

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"I was constantly reminded not to take myself out of the game."

Carolina needed an extra dose of that optimism one month into chemotherapy when she lost her hair all at once. Dealing with an infection from another procedure involving the installation of a port underneath her clavicle, she asked her mom to help her brush her hair. Grabbing a knotty bundle, a whole chunk of hair came off and then another. In half an hour, her hair had gone from long and flowing to nothing at all. In a moment of strength and compassion, her mom told her to turn around and not look back as she brushed her hair out. She had her hair buzzed on July 4th and on that same day, she also learned that her longtime hairstylist had secretly collected funds in order to purchase her a wig for the days where she just wanted to be and to blend.

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One year later, Carolina still says that losing her hair was emotionally the hardest part of the treatment. She had to deal with the mental battle of not feeling as pretty. Before, she could act like everything was fine but after losing her hair, she looked and felt like a cancer patient and it represented the battle that was raging inside her body and her mind. Fully realizing that there is a lot more to being a woman than her hair, Carolina also realized the attachments between femininity and hair that she had not realized before. Describing her day to day, “with this sort of thing, you just don’t know what is going to trigger an emotion. You have to be patient and not be too hard on yourself. You’re going to have good days and good moments and you’re going to have bad days and bad moments. It’s just all part of the process.” At the end of the day, she said “Losing your hair is a small price to pay for not having cancer.”

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Her family and friends helped her get through treatment and recovery. Music and chocolate also helped. Some of her favorite bands to listen to were Daft Punk and All Sons & Daughters. Carolina finished treatment last August and three weeks later, she moved to DC. Her hair has since returned in brunette and curly form and has grown to a point where she no longer needs her wig. When taking the wig off for the first time, it was a scary and vulnerable feeling. The next day was better and the day after that became increasingly better although she would say there are still days where she feels bad about it. While it was a longer process to mourn the loss of her hair, it was the last stage of shutting the door on this season of cancer…cancer fought and the battle won.

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With spring in full bloom, I asked Carolina about some of her favorite things at the moment:

  • Favorite Band? Broods
  • Style Icon? Zooey Deschanel for her cute and simple outfits and Victoria Beckham for her chic and classy dress.
  • What makes you smile? Hilarious people…even if they’re acting dumb
  • One item on your bucket list? Coldplay concert
  • Favorite spot in DC? No declaration thus far.
  • Favorite spot in the whole wide world? Pike Place Market in Seattle.

The last question I posed to Carolina was if she had any advice for someone going through something similar. Her advice was to press into relationship with God. It was the only thing that made sense to her while she was going through something as uncertain and scary as cancer. Much thanks to Carolina for leading a life of bravery and optimism as she continues to rock her internship and share her beautiful gifts with so many. You are an inspiration. Thanks also goes to Erica Baker for capturing the light and her subjects in a way that only she can do.

National Geographic's Women of Vision Exhibit

This year, National Geographic celebrates 125 years of awe-inspiring stories and magnificent photos that showcase everything from the natural beauty of wildlife at its primal to the lives of women enjoying the riptides of the Jersey Shore to the private world of arranged child marriages. Breathtaking, evocative, and cringe-worthy, many of the photos that have bridged the gap between our living rooms and worlds around us have been brought to us by women. While some say that it does not matter who is on the other side of the lens, these women employ a unique sensitivity to the human spirit that comes through their photos.

The current exhibits lining the first floor of the National Geographic Museum on 17th and M St NW in DC are a celebration of Nat Geo's 125 years and Women of Vision. WOV features 11 female photojournalists and selected pieces from their respective bodies of work. It was an inspiring walk through these interactive modules that display intimate glimpses of communities, cultures and life around us. Each photographer has her own section along the U-shaped exhibit and as you read the descriptions, the photographer's voice is played giving more detail into her process or experience capturing these stories. A few interesting facts about some of these distinguished women:

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Lynsey Addario is a gutsy photographer that has covered the hardship of women in conflict zones. She has photographed all over the Middle East but not without trials. On assignment in 2011 for the NYTimes, she and her colleagues were kidnapped and abused in Libya. Through negotiations, she and her team were released after several days. Taking time to recover and be with loved ones, Lynsey has returned to conflict zones to continue her work. The photograph above shows a mother and a daughter on the side of a dirt road in Afghanistan. The daughter was in labor and on their way to the closest hospital when their vehicle broke down. While her husband was farther along the road seeking assistance, Lynsey and her team pulled over to talk to these women. Upon learning of their situation, they drove the family to the hospital and the daughter had a healthy delivery.

Women of Vision Entrance at National Geographic
Maggie Steber's Photos at National Geographic Women of Vision

For Nat Geo assignments, photographers capture between 30,000-90,000 photos. Photo editors comb through the images, analyze, discuss with assignment collaborators, and select between a handful and 30 for the final pool. The photos that are printed and displayed show not only a technical quality of excellence but a spirit of emotion, experience and humanness particular to the story that is assigned. The women behind the lens that have captured these moments go where most will not or cannot and through these stories, share that we are not alone, that there is much of the world to discover and understand. 

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Maggie Steber has photographed in 63 countries and is an award-winning documentary photographer. When applying for her first job at a Texas daily paper, the hiring manager told her that the job would go to a male interviewee. She asked for 24 hours to prove herself and stayed up all night, took photos, printed them, conducted interviews, wrote the story and submitted it the next day ready for publication. She was hired. Awesome.

Stephanie Sinclair has lived in tumultuous areas of the Middle East and has been able to capture wartime and gender-sensitive environments culminating in a striking documentary Too Young to Wed, a project sharing the world of arranged child marriages.

The photo above shows Nujood Ali with her sisters and an expression of delight and freedom. She was 10 years old living in Yemen when she fled her abusive husband, took a cab to the courthouse and sought out a divorce. Her bold protest has drawn international attention to this subject and the rights and protections of women in this part of the world. 

Amy Toensing is a visual storyteller that enjoys photographing the intersection of cultures. She was first drawn to photography by the book "The Family of Woman," a documentary of black and white photos displaying femininity across humanity. Always traveling with a French press and a course of antibiotics (just in case), she has catalogued stories such as the process of migrant broccoli pickers in Maine to the years long drought that affected Australia in 2009.

The exhibit is well worth the visit and is open daily at the National Geographic Museum until March 9. If you are able to go, I highly recommend it and look, LivingSocial even has a deal for you.

Travels: San Francisco

This weekend, the NFC Championship Game will be decided and either the Seattle Seahawks or the San Francisco 49ers will emerge as Superbowl contenders. In truth, I don't really care about this game and am just hoping that wings and beer will be involved. However, since I brought up the 49ers, I thought it would be an apropos time to share a few highlights from my time spent in San Francisco (go '9ers) last week. This was my second time to the cultured/character-filled/techy/beautiful city and this trip involved a mix of work, visioneering for my emergent small business, and of course, play. My desire was to experience a sampling of the flavors the city has to offer. Taking in a new city is a multi-sensory experience and in taking in the aromas or at times being hit with them as I walked or Muni'd about, there were three that continuously wove in and around each other: 1) deliciousness 2) patchouli 3) urine. Urban life - know 'bout it! Needless to say, I had a fantastic time in the Bay Area exploring and visiting friends and hope to return again. On to the highlights...

Union Made 

Union Made

Union Made sits between the Mission and Castro districts. Voted one of the top 10 independent men's stores in the country, Union Made carries signature made and aesthetically classic goods that strike the chord between polished and put together with West Coast casual. Not to be interpreted in the traditional sense of union made, rather, the store is about "collaborating, uniting and making things together." The space showcases established and up-and-coming brands whose pieces have a certain timeless modernity to it. There is quite a smattering of brands and goods but they are cohesive, complementing one another in form of dress. It is a pricey exchange. Pieces go from $68 to $700. Luxurious knit sweaters, polished Alden wingtips, wooden and welded shaving/grooming products, a wide array of stately pocket squares and woolen ties, and a selection of monthlies and quarterlies compose the space. What I liked most about the store was that it focuses on quality but balances this with accessibility. The staff encourage you to think of what you have in your wardrobe and what pieces in their store can inspire you to pair something formal with something more casual. The staff seemed collectively enthused about the clothes and the customers interacting with the goods. James certainly added some things to the wishlist here. They also have a sister store, Mill Mercantile. Yay.

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Tartine Sesame and Flax Oat Porridge Loaves

I've sat on the sidelines of the gluten-free movement reading about it, observing friends shape their meals to avoid it, and adding gluten-free options to any event or conference I've planned where food is involved. All of that gluten free consciousness fell by the wayside during this trip. We arrived to SF on Tuesday afternoon and rented bikes at Golden Gate State Park. Promptly at 4pm, we zoomed via Muni down to the Mission District to visit Tartine Bakery. On foot, we we crossed Guerrero St and lo and behold, we smelled just straight-up grainy and pastry deliciousness emanating from the bakery. Each day, the loaves emerge from the hearth fresh and warm at 4:30pm. We just made it before the line went out the door and around the bakery. Yessss. Within minutes, they sold out of the classic country loaf but we were able to snag sesame and flax-oat porridge half loaves as well as a slice of country bread with butter and apricot preserves. Yum!Now when one reads articles, sees posts, and watches videos about this, suffice to say, it gets hyped. You can't help it. It is now on a pedestal. Considering this and attempting to compensate, I tared my barometer at neutral with a slight lean towards skeptical. Okay, not really, I was excited! The bread was good. It was delicious. It melted on my tongue. And it had a fun mix of flavor eaten by itself or paired with butter and preserves. It wasn't life epiphany good, it was just good. Wholesome. Tasty. And I'm so glad I went. The bakery or the bread doesn't claim to be anything more than a local bakery with a zest for true and finely flavorful bread and pastries. The breads are definitely well-researched and well-loved. Tartine uses grains like spelt, red wheat, kamut, einkorn, quinoa, amaranth, et cetera. The co-owner, Chad Robertson has had a love affair (seriously, he waxes poetic) with bread for over 20 years and has meticulously studied ancient and whole grains; experimented with naturally leavened breads making hundreds of loaves (10,000 hours? check!); and has made a life (along with his wife and business partner) perfecting this centuries old dietary staple. I was pleased to visit a place like this in SF whose devotion, enjoyment, and patience to crafting these ordinary staples doesn't follow the dietary fads but shows that not all gluten is bad. It is in fact wholesome and delicious. Trust me, you won't want the caramelized crusts cut off of this bread.

Karl The Fog

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The city is personified. Even their famous fog has a name, a backstory, and even a twitter! The fog is Karl, and although he may seem quite ominous as he descends onto the city bringing cold vapors and slightly blinding drivers, he's pretty beautiful. So much so that there is this stunning video Adrift tracking his journeys through the Cali landscape.Adrift from Simon Christen on Vimeo.

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Karl's mom met his dad somewhere over Hawaii and Karl was born in that tropical paradise. Karl's a modern fog and even has a twitter account @KarlTheFog. My sources confirmed that he's a fan of the microblogging company and feels pretty positive about its future outlook, so much so, that he even applied for a job at twitter. Can you imagine Karl coming to a conference room meeting? Or lunch @birdfeeder? What an entrance!!! (I think the folks at twitter believe Karl needs to keep doing what he do so he didn't get the job. Who knows how long it will take him to get over it. Expect more fog than usual over their Market Street office.

CapitalOne360 Cafe

CofficesSan Fran is a city full of freelancers, tech heads, artists, free spirits, and gourmands. Enter the "coffice" - a combination of full-fledged coffeehouse and office space. There were many in SF that mirror DC go-to's like Tryst, Coupe, Big Bear Cafe, Ebenezers Coffeehouse. I had a chance to experience two coffices firsthand. One was CapitalOne360 Cafe - a three-level building dedicated to freelancers. The coffee and food are offered at very reasonable prices and there was no shortage of outlets and various seating styles. Bean bag? Lounger? Counter height community table? Why yes. It offered a large, open space with lots of light, the pleasure of presence with other freelancers, but enough space for privacy and brainstorming. You could also reserve conference rooms below to hold meetings. Nifty. The other coffice was Workshop Cafe. When you arrive, the friendly staff ask you to check in using their phone app. Each seat is outfitted with its own outlet and they offer 10 hours of free wi-fi. After that it's $2/hour. You can text or email your coffee/food order and the staff bring it to your seat. If you need printing, scanning and larger meeting space - they have it in a collaborative section in the back. Again, nifty. Very helpful to get work done.

WDFM Family Portraits

Walt Disney Family Museum"What if your family created a museum about your life? What would it look like?" A 40,000 square foot space in the former barracks of the Presidio Park is filled with interactive galleries, early drawings, animation, movies, music and listening stations telling the colorful story of Walt Disney's life. Co-founded and curated by his heir and daughter, Diane Disney Miller, the Walt Disney Family Museum is a tribute to the legacy, history, and innovation that Disney built. The walking timeline has recorded audio from interviews, original letters he wrote to colleagues and family, and early sketches.

It's also a warm biographical picture of the family man, which spurred his creative brilliance when it came to classic Disney stories, films, merchandise, and parks. Disney changed the game of animation and brought a level of technology and quality that outdid the stagnant state of cartoons at that time. Also, his desire for Disneyland was to create an amusement park that told a story and thrilled both parents and children alike. He was a big kid with discipline and tenacity and it was an inspirational treat to walk through his life and work.

I was also excited to see the special exhibit featuring Tyrus Wong. Alive and kickin' at the age of 103, Tyrus is a Chinese-American illustrator and artist that broke through many barriers in Hollywood during his time. Hired as an "in-betweener" (someone who draws all the animated sketches from one plot point to another), he created the inspiration portraits for what became Bambi. His artwork creates an atmosphere all around it through his use of impressionistic-influenced watercolors and bold broad strokes inspired by Chinese calligraphy and art. Since his retirement, he lives in the Bay Area and makes elaborate kites and other toys.

Nightlife at the Academy of Sciences 

Oh yeah. Nightclub for hipsters and nerds! We grooved and got our learn on as we made our way through the Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate State Park. Each Thursday, the Academy hosts a nightlife evening with a certain theme. The theme for this particular Thursday night: "How To." Partnering with DJs, SkillExchangeSF, and Google, we meandered through a series of stations featuring demonstrations on making fresh mozzarella, urban beekeeping, letterpress, taxidermy, plant id'ing, juggling, ninja skills, Google glass, and 3D-printing. The other exhibits were also open to the nightlife crowd such as the rainforest biosphere, aquarium, and the hottest ticket of the night - the planetarium. A camaraderie permeated the planetarium crew as we all cheered and clapped for nearly everything during "Cosmic Collisions" narrated by Robert Redford. Next, we stopped by the tectonic plates section in time for our test run of Google glass.

We put on these spectacles of the future and began voicing commands to the air while tapping and swiping along with 50 other people in the exhibit. The glass screen is placed in front and above your right eye so it takes some adjustment to see the screen without blocking your vision. If I were to take a snapshot, the room was full of people squinting their left eyes while their right eyeball rolled up, sometimes too much, to get a clear shot of the screen. Google glass didn't like my voice or search queries so it took me to other sites. Strange sites. Oh well. But I did successfully take video and photos. I don't see the way it will integrate into my life currently and I cringe to imagine the day where I'm at dinner with friends and we're all wearing Google glass. This is probably how the conversation would go, "Wait, are you responding to me or are you tweeting someone?""That joke is hilarious, right?! Oh wait, you're on youtube.""Do I have something on my eyebrow? Oh nope, you're searching something." I shouldn't jest too much. Skynet might remember this one a couple years from now.

Muir Woods Main Trail
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Muir Woods Awe
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Stinson Beach 2

Muir WoodsLocated in Marin County across the Golden Gate Bridge, Muir Woods is over 500 acres of protected park nearly half of which are covered in old growth Coast Redwoods. These redwoods are monumental. A brownish-red, they provide a cathedral-like canopy over the woods as visitors can choose between a minimum of 5 trails exploring the park. Redwoods take centuries to grow and some have survived a fire or twelve, showcasing hollows where the wood had been charred. Coincidentally, they also make for great photo spots. We found a stump whose center began in 909 A.D. and outer layer ended in 1930. Crazy!These trees have seen a lot of history. You get some perspective on one's smallness standing next to one of these redwoods. For someone that lives in an urban setting, walking through these woods was quite a marvel.That pretty much sums up the trip. At the end of all these highlights, you might be wondering, "But did she see the Painted Ladies and sing the Full House theme song, "Everywhere You Look"? You know I did.“I’m proud to have been a Yankee. But I have found more happiness and contentment since I came back home to San Francisco than any man has a right to deserve. This is the friendliest city in the world.” - Joe DiMaggioUntil next time San Fran!

Heritage & Cranberries: Thanksgiving Edition

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Corraling Cranberries
Bog Walk

Heritage Cranberry: A Thanksgiving TraditionThis week, the majority of Americans make the journey home or to places considered home to partake in the annual traditions of feasting and the giving of thanks. A kick starter to the holiday season, one can usually find turkey, stuffing, candied yams, gravy, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, and puddings at a Thanksgiving feast. You are more than likely familiar with this menu because you have woken up with a food baby of said items from last night's dinner table and/or are getting ready to make a delicious Thanksgiving sandwich with the remaining leftovers (after some breakfast pumpkin pie). Another staple ingredient to the feast table is cranberries. Whole, canned, jellied - cranberries are the sweet and tart glue that brings turkey and all the trimmings together. Known for its perfect attendance during Thanksgiving, cranberries have also proven its staying power throughout the year in the form of dried craisins, preserves, juices, wines, chocolate-covered, and yogurt-covered variants. Not only are they delicious and harbingers of health benefits enough to classify it as a superfood, cranberries during harvest season are beyond beautiful.  I had the opportunity to visit one of the longest running cranberry and blueberry farms in New Jersey, Moore's Meadow, to learn more about the brilliantly red and nutrient rich cranberry. First meeting Neva Moore in DC during the Ocean Spray cranberry tour, she welcomed a visit to her family's farm during one of the most beautiful times of year on the farm - harvest season. The art and work of cranberries is a rich and labor intensive process. It connects all who are involved to the majesty and complexity of growing things from the earth. I also learned that the process teaches patience, discipline, resourcefulness, rhythm, and community in ways that are unique to the agricultural sector.

One of three native fruits to North America, cranberries have a multifaceted history in form and function. Referred to as sassamenesh, ibimi,bearberries, fenberries, andcraneberries at different stages in history, the contemporary moniker refers to the red fruit as cranberries. While 95 percent of the harvested fruit is turned into juices and sauces, 5 percent is sold fresh. Today, the cranberry industry is estimated to be valued at $300 million.  Though farm ownership and operation runs independently, farms like Moore's Meadow participate in Ocean Spray, a 750-farmer cooperative, that markets and distributes cranberries from farms across New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin. Beginning in 1815, Moore's Meadow has been in the family for seven generations.

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Run by Sam Moore Sr., Neva Moore, and Sam Moore (Jr), these three have dedicated their lives to continuing the tradition and business. An interesting mix of sentimental heritage and business-minded grit, the long-term question of continuing the cranberry business dances between the two partners of tradition and economic profitability.Between 40-50 families grow cranberries in the Pine Barrens (or affectionately dubbed Piney's) located in southern New Jersey. The Piney's consist of 650,000 acres of sandy soil, wetlands, and pine trees perfect for digging bogs and growing berries. A heritage industry, the most potent and valuable knowledge is passed down farmer to farmer and parent to child. Day in and day out, family and staff spends considerable time together in the bogs and on the trucks. In that process year after year, pieces of the baton get handed down the line to the next generation who will continue the farm. In passing another bog at Moore's Meadow, I noticed Sam's (Jr.) son (also named Sam) out in the bog with his waders actively engaged in the harvest. Sam says that his son already knows he wants to go into the cranberry business. However, he needs to get his education first. And then, if he still wants to do this, he can come back to the farm. [gallery type="rectangular" ids="1470,1471"]

Cranberry Bog Panorama

The growing and harvesting process is quite fascinating.  The harvest season takes place in October and involves several weeks worth of long and hard work beginning each day at 6am. The harvest ends when all the bogs are cleared and barrels of berries are shipped off at the end of the month. When I asked Neva what kind of recipes she makes, Neva mentioned that one of the fun parts of the season is sending bags of raw berries to friends, family, and neighbors. And inevitably, friends, family, and neighbors always share their creations with her so she has never really had to cook or bake with the berries. 

1. Dig & Plant

First, you need enough acreage to be able to excavate bogs 5-6 feet deep and build a reliable irrigation system. Most bogs average between 4-6 acres each and take about two years to dig. Moore's Meadow has expanded from 80 acres to now include 700 acres of land (60 acres belong to cranberries while 40 belong to blueberries). Once the bog is dug in, the farmers plant the cranberry vines in rows. Sam describes the fragility of cranberry growing, "Plant as much acreage as you want but it is about the yield. It is like a baby. You can't leave it. It needs to be nurtured and the bogs need to be constantly monitored.

Crimson Queen, Mullica Queen, and Demoranville are a few of the regal sounding names of newer cranberry varietals that could pass for the labels to a fashion designer's collection. While these newer varietals boast higher output, Moore's Meadow specializes in the hybrid Stevens varietal, which produces between 300-350 barrels per acre. Once the vines are planted, it takes 5-7 years for the plant to mature for harvest. If properly cared for, the perennial vine can live and produce for up to 150 years. Sam (Jr.) talks about pruning the vines and doing their best to use every part of the plant. He says of pruning, "We use the strength that's been clipped from those vines to strengthen the new generation of fruit." Put THAT in a fortune cookie or leadership book. Profundity is found in the simplest of statements and this is just fact for them.

2. Flood & Beat

Once the vines are mature, each bog is flooded in sequence using a grid of canals. The bog is filled with water and an egg beater vehicle goes down row by row gently prodding the berries off the vine. The result of the egg beater is that the berries are picked off the vines and the natural air bubble that exists inside all cranberries helps the cranberries float to the surface of the water.

In addition to the egg beater, farmers dress in waterproof waders and wellies to help guide the harvest. I found there to be an interesting connection between harvesting gear designed with function in mind and the fashion industry's take on form and function with thigh high boots to give attitude, longer lines, and warmth to one's legs during the wintry seasons.

3. Harvest & Sort

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Once the cranberries are let loose and afloat, the farmers bring wooden planks made out of cedar wood and create a ring (diamond, pentagon, hexagon) around the berries. The planks are used as a shifting ring to push and gather the cranberries onto the conveyer belt.

The conveyer belt lifts the berries into a processor and cleaning machine where they are sorted, separated from the chaff (leaves, twigs, debris) and then moved onto the loading truck. Sam Moore Sr. built the conveyer belt/cleaning machine combo to efficiently sort the berries from the chaff and ensure that they were sending off true barrels of berries.

The bog that we witnessed being harvested was approximately 6.5 acres and yielded about 1700 barrels of cranberries. Sam Moore Sr. indicated that 2012 was a very good year and to date, 2013 has been a respectable harvest. In the video below, you can see how Sam helps the cleaning machine along using a cedar plank to feed the cranberries into the sorter. The chaff falls off into collection buckets and basically anywhere the wind takes it creating a thick layer of dust and debris on the truck and ground below. The cranberries are loaded on a giant truck and carted off to the receiving station.

4. Ship & Send

Cranberries Through the Sorter

Dry harvested cranberries are sold whole at market. Wet harvested cranberries (majority of Moore's Meadow berries) are frozen at the receiving station and then turned into jellies, sauces or craisins.  When asked about Moore's Meadow's legacy and why Sam Moore (Jr) continues the family business, he knows he is part of a generations-deep tradition but the lineage isn't what gets him up in the morning. Rather, it is a cranberry juice cocktail of drive to see profitability longterm, the satisfaction of hard work and accountability that comes with the territory, and a genuine admiration and affection for his father. Sam points to a fire that occurred in 1954 which destroyed a ton of acreage. He also described how he saw his father revive every inch of the land to build it to what it is today. Sam firmly believes that you have to want it, to want the work and the land. Sam says, "There are moments of glory and moments where you want to throw in the towel for the right price and right circumstances. But this is my life. This is really a labor of love."

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