As the top cranberry producing state in the country, Wisconsin growers are working to become leaders in "growing green."
Every year, harvesters pull hundreds of millions of pounds of cranberries out of Wisconsin’s marshes.
"We enjoy the land. We live outside 24 hours a day sometimes. It's part of us," says Dr. Fred Prehn, owner of Prehn Cranberry Company.
Four and a half million pounds of cranberries come from Prehn's Monroe County marsh.
"Some families in cranberries have been growing for four generations. We've always been good stewards of our land," says Prehn.
Prehn, a Wausau dentist during the week, got into the bog business 17 years ago. In the past year, he found a new way to help power his cranberry company.
"I went with two wind turbines and solar power. It's just the next step. It's utilizing the wind and the environment to pay for all my power needs, to try to reduce my carbon footprint, and save some money."
Aside from wind energy, cranberry growers are also focusing on water conservation. Right now, the University of Wisconsin-Madison has two studies in the works dealing with how marshes are irrigated."
"The greatest consumption period is during irrigation and frost protection," says Rebecca Harbut, an associate professor of Horticulture at UW-Madison.
Harbut says the research will look into exactly how much growers have to irrigate without forcing the farmers into a trial and error kind of testing on their own. One non-irrigated frost can easily cost them their crop.
"Cranberry growers are really great for setting an example to other industries in the state in terms of what a group of growers can do when they really want to make something like energy use or resource use a priority for their industry to tackle," Harbut says.
So even though from above the bogs burst with blue and red, it's easy to see the theme below is definitely green.
"It's fun to be a part of it," Prehn says.
Prehn says the wind turbines cost more than $200,000 a piece. He says Focus on Energy grants helped. His projected pay back is six to seven years.
Enter Zip Code for Custom Weather