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A Very Berry Masterpiece

The time has come to "Pick Your Crandidate" and the people at Wetherby Cranberry Company won't let you forget it.

"Since Wisconsin is a swing state in the political elections this fall, we thought we would say 'Pick Your Crandidate.' Is Wisconsin going to go all red or is it going to go all blue? But the main thing is we're encouraging everyone to vote," Nadgi VanWychen, owner of Wetherby Cranberry Company, told NewsChannel 7.

And they're getting the message out one cranberry at a time. On Friday, the Wetherby Cranberry Company welcomed students from Tomah High School to help them build a "Get Out The Vote" message from 130,000 pounds of cranberries.

"It's a cool way to encourage people to vote," Tomah junior Matt Kortbein said.

"We wanted to have young people involved with this and encourage young people to vote," VanWychen explained.

Kortbein and his fellow students helped the Wetherby family harvest the cranberries and turn the beds into shapes. In each bog cranberries were gathered to create an outline of Wisconsin. In one bog the outline was filled in with the berries, representing a red state. In the other bog, cranberries were floated around the outline to create a blue state.

Believe it or not, this project was also part of the student's curriculum.

"Right now we're learning about cranberries in our unit and so we're learning about harvesting and different facts about them," Kortbein said.

For these students, the hands on experience is invaluable.

"It's the best way for them to pick up knowledge. You can tell somebody. You can show somebody. But to actually have them go and do it, it really makes an impact," Nelda Bailey, an Agricultural Instructor at Tomah High School, explained.

She's also hoping her students walk away from this experience with a better appreciation of our State's official fruit.

"I think students and also the community, will take away wow cranberries really make a major impact on our community," Bailey added.

"It's a dramatic economic boost for the state of Wisconsin," VanWychen said commenting on the cranberry industry.

Luckily, growers are anticipating a record cranberry crop this year. Although, VanWychen admits growers did have to put more money into watering their crops to make it through the draught. Now that this year's cranberries are safely floating in the bogs, VanWychen is looking ahead to this winter.

"We are still concerned if we don't get water between now and December because we do have a cultural practice in our industry of putting a winter flood on," VanWychen told NewsChannel 7.

The winter flood is used to freeze the cranberry vines, protecting them from the winter wind-chill and low temperatures. If there is not enough rainfall to freeze the vines, next year's crop could be impacted. But this year the crop is good, meaning prices should stay consistent.


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