Sugar Hill Cranberry Co.

Name:        Sugar Hill Cranberry Co.

Location:    256 Sacarap Road

                    Columbia, Maine  04623

Phone:         207-483-2611




Sugar Hill Cranberry Co. Facebook Page

Products and Services:

  1. -one-pound bag of cranberries

  2. -five-pound bulk fresh cranberries

  3. -ten-pound bulk cranberries

  4. -bulk cranberries - 20 lb. box

  5. -potted cranberry plants

  6. -Bogberry vinegar

  7. -Southwest Harbor Farmers’ Market

  8. -Eden Farmers’ Market -Bar Harbor

  9. -Fryeburg Fair

  10. -Bangor Harvest Festival

What Makes the Sugar Hill Cranberry

Company So Unique?

The history of cranberries in Maine will be shared in a separate profile in the Unique Maine Farms’ project.  These webpages will focus on cranberry farmers, John and Christine Alexander, who operate Sugar Hill Cranberry Co, a cranberry farm on ten acres in Columbia Falls, Maine.

John Alexander hails from a well-established cranberry background. His Uncle Bill worked at a cranberry bog in Wareham, Massachusetts in the 1930’s.  John was introduced to the world of cranberries when he signed on for seasonal work as a young man in Massachusetts.  He worked for eighteen years at Decas Cranberry in Wareham. John helped Cherryfield Foods set up their cranberry operation and then decided to establish his own cranberry farm.  He has assistance in the operation from his wife, Christine, and on a part-time basis from their son, Kyle.

People have many misconceptions about cranberries.  It is often generally assumed that they are grown in water.  Cranberries grow on land. The cranberries that are harvested on the land with a rake or a walk-behind dry picking machine are the fresh cranberries that are placed in packages and sold by the pound.   The labor involved in picking fresh cranberries from a dry harvest is very intense so the farmer can make as much as $3.00 per pound.

The land on which cranberries are grown often is flooded and harvested later in the season in what is known as the “wet harvest.” Berries from the wet harvest only net one-tenth of the price of fresh cranberries at approximately thirty cents a pound.  The Alexanders sell the cranberries from their wet harvest around the third week of October to a local processor who turns them into cranberry juice or cranberry sauce.  They hope one day to be able to have their own processing facility.

Over the past few years before Thanksgiving, the Alexanders have brought their fresh cranberries to the New Amsterdam Market at the old Fulton Fish Market in New York City. They do very well there since the market is so well attended and people are willing to pay more for fresh cranberries.  Their fresh berries are also sold at the Eden’s Farmers Market in Bar Harbor on Sundays and at the Southwest Harbor Farmer’s Market on Fridays. Other locations which carry their fresh berries include Bayside Market in Milbridge, Simon’s Farmstand in Ellsworth, Rocky Ridge Orchard in Bowdoin, Heald Farm in Troy, and TradeWinds Market in Blue Hill.  They participate in the Fryeburg Fair and the Bangor Harvest Festival.  This past November they had a booth in the Holiday Food and Gift Fair at the Portland Company on Fore Street in Portland.

The Alexanders grow three varieties of cranberries including Pilgrim, Howes, and Stevens.  The Stevens cranberries were developed in Wisconsin by Neil Stevens and are known for their large fruit.  John and Christine sell their fresh Stevens cranberries in bulk in five and ten pound bags. Customers are buying them to use in cooking and baking and for putting up jams and jellies and sauces.  Fresh cranberries that are bought in the fall can be kept in the refrigerator through the holidays.  If people opt to freeze the berries, they can be kept for up to a year. The Alexanders frequently share cranberry recipes for such treats as upside down cranberry cake and pie, cranberry raisins, cranberry ketchup, and cranberry sauce.  There have been recipes posted on their Facebook page for some exotic cranberry desserts such as chocolate-covered cognac cranberries, cranberry crisp, cranberry curd bars and cabernet cranberry and blueberry sauce.

Some of the Alexanders’ cranberries are being put to new uses.  They now sell a Bogberry Vinegar that is bottled by Red Bird Farm in Harrington.  Two Hogs Winery and Younity Winery are two Maine winemakers that are using their cranberries for their cranberry wines.  Night Shift Brewing, a microbrewery outside of Boston, is making cranberry beer with cranberries supplied by the Alexanders.  The Alexanders have experimented with making cranberry wine jelly. They sell their cranberries through their website and on ebay. Their cranberries have been shipped all over the country. Their line of products is now quite diversified. They bring along some potted cranberry plants to the Fryeburg Fair.

In addition to growing cranberries, the Alexanders operate the Udder View Dairy.  They raise registered Oberhasli dairy goats. This March has proven to be quite productive with the birth of many kid goats. Christine makes an assortment of goat cheeses such as flavored or plain soft and creamy chevres or bloomy rind cheeses. She explained that their marinated chevre with roasted garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil with herbs and peppercorns is a top seller.

The milk from their resident Jersey cow, Bella, is also utilized in some of the dairy products that they sell such as the plain and flavored yogurts at the Southwest Harbor Farmers’ Market and the Bar Harbor Farmers’ Market.  The Alexanders are skilled at tapping the natural resources of the area as John also harvests clams throughout the year.

The Alexanders enjoy sharing information about the history of cranberries.  They have posted some old cranberry-related farming photos on their Facebook page.  They often set up their antique

1930’s cranberry separator at the fairs and festivals.  For the past few years they have set up

the separator at the Museum exhibit at the Fryeburg Fair.  Fresh cranberries are placed in the winnower at the top of the separator and the leaves from the vines are separated from the berries.  The freshness of cranberries are exhibited by their ability to bounce.  The cranberries are transported to a conveyor belt system where any bruised, soft, or lightly-colored cranberries are removed.

It appears that the Alexanders are always experimenting with new uses of cranberries.  They have posted information about the health benefits of cranberries on their Facebook page.  To learn more about their cranberry farm, individuals can check out their Facebook page or their website. To learn more about their goats and dairy products, go to their Udder View Dairy website: or their Udder View Facebook page:

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The Alexanders bring an antique cranberry separator from the 1930’s to the Fryeburg Fair.

Where to

John’s Uncle Bill (on left) is shown harvesting cranberries in 1930. Photo courtesy of Sugar Hill Cranberry’s Facebook page.

Cranberry rake

Potted cranberry plant

The wet harvest of cranberries. Photo courtesy of Christine Alexander.

Photo courtesy of Sugar Hill Cranberry’s Facebook page.

John Alexander is shown harvesting fresh cranberries. Photo courtesy of Sugar Hill Cranberry’s Facebook page.

Bogberry Vinegar.

Photo courtesy of Sugar Hill Cranberry’s Facebook page.