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Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences

Rachel Weed

cape cod’s loss of the american cranberry

cranberry farmCape Cod’s Loss of the American Cranberry: A Sociological Study of the Future of the Cape Cod Cranberry Industry with a Focus on Environmental and Cultural Challenges argues that agricultural micro-crops of the United States are facing tumultuous futures involving both environmental and cultural shifts that suggest a great social loss of the American farmer and his crops. These changes affect the niche growing areas of these micro-crops, one of which is the Cape Cod cranberry industry. The loss of the small cranberry farm due to climate change and cultural disinterest may affect farmers in a variety of ways and will, undoubtedly, redefine what the Cape has been recognized for over the past two centuries. The cranberry acts as a perfect case study for the future of the American farmer and his farm, which are both supposed to be heavily dependent on both climate change and cultural norms. The thoughts and predictions of the cranberry industry of a variety of farmers were collected by an ethnographic, qualitative study. The interviews provided proved the future challenges of the industry, mostly revolving around the economic hardships made more apparent by fluctuating weather patterns, lack of resources, and a lack of support, both culturally and scientifically. The future of the industry, however, was greatly ignored by many interviewed proving the short-term focus micro-crops are given by their industry. The cranberry will not continue to be farmed in the way it has for over two centuries, with old, small, family owned farms dominating the industry. Instead, due to environmental and cultural shifts, the industry will move into the hands of larger companies that have the ability to still grow the berry. While the cranberry might still be present in Cape Cod’s landscape, its significance will greatly be diminished and the effects of the loss of small farms felt by the growing communities. The berry is not alone in being affected by environmental and cultural changes in the near future, but it does represent the true value it has within the community and hints at the future of micro-crops, and perhaps, with time, larger crops, within the United States.

Rachel Weed is a 2012 graduate of the College of Arts & Sciences, majoring in Sociology and minoring in environmental studies. While at BC, Rachel engaged in a variety of studies that bridged sociology and environmental studies, both in the classroom and through undergraduate research grants. These passions culminated in the writing of her senior thesis to fulfill her honors degree within the sociology department. She ultimately gained admission into Phi Beta Kappa and graduated magna cum laude. When not focusing on the academic world, Rachel loves to travel the world and absorb different cultures – another passion which has led her to finding post-graduate employment at an international education company in Boston, Massachusetts. She hopes to eventually find herself working in the sustainability field, working with people and corporations to diminish the negative effects mankind has inflicted upon the environment.