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Nodji Van Wychen

Cranberry Farming
Warrens, WI

Necessity is the mother of invention

All of the people on this website are called “artists.” Perhaps you are wondering, “How can a farmer be an artist?”

The Van Wychens and other cranberry farmers are innovative artists. Visit their machine sheds and you will see that cranberry farmers invent and make machines and machine parts. They need to do this because, with only about 240 cranberry farmers in Wisconsin, the market is too small for manufacturers.

Cranberry farmers need to be innovative in creating devices to suit their particular farm. They look at ideas from other kinds of industries and other kinds of farming HMMM...to get ideas. Some of the machines that cranberry farmers make are so good that they last for generations. Nodji and Jim still use a “cranberry mill” that her grandfather made.

Nodji’s husband, Jim, has a great ability to create and modify machinery. A few years ago, Jim and Nodji traveled to Massachusetts for the state’s Cranberry Growers Field Day. Jim saw something Click to hear sound clip.the growers there called a “cranberry pump.” Click the bubble to hear Nodji tell the story of their visit. You can read along by clicking here. 

He took the idea and then made one for his own farm. The cranberry pump sucks up cranberries floating in the marsh and sorts the berries from the other debris, like vines, leaves, and dirt.

Cranberry pump. Photo by Jamie Yuenger.

This picture shows Nodji standing next to cranberry corral devices. She and Jim use them to gather cranberries after they’re off the vine. The tubes float on the water to corral the floating berries into a corner of the marsh for easier harvesting. Jim got the idea to use these tubes for cranberries from watching TVNodji Van Wychen. Photo by Jamie Yuenger.. One day he saw a news report about an oil spill in a bay. The workers were using these tubes to corral the oil. Jim thought that if they could contain oil then they probably could contain cranberries. He ordered a few to try out. They worked! The next season he ordered enough for the whole marsh.

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Nodji Van Wychen



“During the winter months, if we have any few idle hours, the men are usually out in their shops and they’re going over their equipment and many times, making and creating and inventing new equipment themselves. Many cranberry growers make their own equipment.”

– Nodji Van Wychen

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