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Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce Is Just Around the Corner – and So Is the Completion of the Updated UMass Cranberry Station

November 16, 2022

The perfect balance between tart and sweet, cranberries are an American favorite and an important Massachusetts agricultural crop. An exciting project at the UMass Cranberry Station is now paving the way for enhanced cranberry research in the Commonwealth.

The $7.75 million project, which was announced in 2018 by Chancellor Subbaswamy and Governor Baker, will expand and renovate the station’s research facilities. Massachusetts is the second-largest growing region in the world, and the UMass Cranberry Station – located in East Wareham – is an essential research facility for the cranberry industry in Massachusetts. 

“The exciting thing about the project is that we'll have an almost-5000-square-foot new building,” said Hilary Sandler, director of the UMass Cranberry Station and Extension Professor.

Sandler said the new building will house new offices and a large meeting room overlooking the cranberry bogs. The building was also designed with an emphasis on accessibility in compliance with ADA standards.

Renovation of current facilities includes up-to-code HVAC systems, installation of a large tight tank that will collect all lab waste, more environmentally-friendly features, and three new “soft-shell” lab spaces.

The Cranberry Station, a unit of the Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment, has a partnership with the Agriculture Research Service (ARS) branch of the USDA, which currently employs 2 scientists who are housed at the East Wareham site. With renovations underway, the station is now able to bring in a third ARS scientist.

“This whole expansion and renovation is allowing us to really solidify this partnership that we have with the ARS,” said Sandler. “This is all great stuff for the cranberry industry.”

While UMass scientists are largely focused on production-oriented disciplines like plant pathology and entomology, ARS sciences center their research on more environmentally-focused areas like climate change, precision agriculture, and water quality.

Beyond its partnership with the ARS, the Cranberry Station also aims to expand its collaboration with more local scientists.

“There’s a lot of great scientists here just around Boston,” said Sandler. “There’s definitely tons of opportunity to bring collaboration and different types of expertise to address some of the questions and challenges for the cranberry industry.”

Construction of the new and improved Cranberry Station began in September 2021 and was scheduled to be completed by July. Due to COVID-related supply chain and labor issues, it is now expected to be completed by December. 

“They’ve been busy little bees in there,” Sandler said of the construction workers. “There are a few more hurdles, but it’s really coming together pretty nicely.”