Cape Cod Life, Annual Guide 2018 |

2018 Annual Guide: Harwich

Cape Cod Life  /  2018 Annual / , , ,

Writer: Cape Cod Life Publications

Pleasant Lake • West Harwich • East Harwich • Harwich Port • Harwich Center • North Harwich • South Harwich

2018 Annual Guide: Harwich, Annual Guide 2018 Cape Cod LIFE

Saquatucket Harbor. Photo by Paul Rifkin

Photo Ops:

Picturesque Saquatucket Harbor never lets us down, and drivers on busy Route 28 can’t help but slow down for this postcard view. For a historic backdrop, snap the kids at Brooks Academy Museum, which was a school back in the 1800s and early 1900s.

Favorite Spots:

Just south of the Mid-Cape Highway between exits 10 and 11, Hawksnest State Park is a hidden jewel, and one worth seeking out for its quiet trails and gorgeous pond views. Thompson’s Field is another favorite, and a great place for dog walks.

2018 Annual Guide: Harwich, Annual Guide 2018 Cape Cod LIFE

Pleasant Lake General Store. Photo by Don Sylor

Mom & Pops:

Pleasant Lake General Store is a great little stop along the Cape Cod Rail Trail if you are biking, but worth a drive along scenic Route 124 as well. Grab a sandwich and picnic at the pond. The Cape Cod Lavender Farm is a true family business, and well worth a visit—especially at harvest time in summer.

Don’t Miss!

The Annual Toast of Harwich is being held April 27 at Wequassett Resort and Golf Club. Featuring fare from a variety of Harwich eateries, the gala will also include fine wines and a silent auction. In July and August, check out Port Summer Nights every Wednesday, with free music along Main Street in Harwich Port.

Leo Cakounes Harwich

Leo Cakounes. Photo by Paige Biviano

A day in the life of: Leo Cakounes, cranberry farmer and chairman of the Barnstable County Board of Regional Commissioners

By Deb Boucher Stetson

Curiosity has led Leo Cakounes in all sorts of directions over the years. When he didn’t know what the county assembly did, he ran for a seat on it. When he wondered what else he could do with his Harwich property besides run the motel that had been there, he went to town hall and asked what it was zoned for. “They said agricultural,” so he established a farm.

And when he had an opportunity to buy 63 acres of mostly cranberry bogs, he decided to go into the cranberry business—despite the fact that he knew absolutely nothing about it.

“I didn’t even like mixing cranberry with vodka to be honest with you,” he says, grinning. But awareness of his lack of knowledge led to a side business. “We knew nothing about the cranberry business, and I realized there were people here in Harwich who had lived here all their lives and knew nothing about the cranberry business,” even though Harwich is known for cranberry farms. So Cranberry Bog Tours was born. Cakounes and his wife, Andrea, offer tours (by reservation only) of what they note is Cape Cod’s largest organic cranberry farm, and the tours typically fill up.

Cakounes grew up in Saugus, and moved to the Cape after his father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 56 and could no longer run the hotel his family had bought in Harwich. He soon realized the hotel was not going to thrive. “The cabins were dated,” and by the 1980s visitors were increasingly after something more luxurious. That’s when he checked with the town and realized farming was an option.

Leo Cakounes Harwich

Photo by Paige Biviano

“I ended up buying Cape Farm Supply,” he recalls. After running it for 15 years, he tried to develop a portion of the property as affordable housing, but neighbors sued to block it, so the couple looked for other land, found some bogs to lease and jumped into cranberry farming.

Tours were part of the business from the start. “That helped even out the hills and valleys of agriculture,” he explains, noting, “With farming, you’re really at the mercy of weather.”

In learning about cranberry farming, “I relied a lot on Link Thatcher, who was a neighbor,” he says, recalling that in those days Harwich was a tight-knit community.

Cakounes served six years as the town’s representative on the Cape Cod Commission, which eventually led to greater involvement at the county level. In 2017 he became chairman of the Barnstable County Commission, the three-member board that oversees the county. “The county takes up a lot of my time,” says Cakounes, who believes in doing his homework and always speaks his mind. “I put the time into what I’ve been asked to do.”

Aside from the time he spends at the county seat in Barnstable, Cakounes tends to be something of a homebody. He and Andrea have a daughter who attends Fitchburg College, and they spend as much time as possible with her. Cakounes frequents the Lighthouse Café, and “I get my hair cut at Adrian’s,” he says, “right next door.”

Asked his favorite place in Harwich, Cakounes looks out the picture window that overlooks a field, pond and his barn, and replies, “Right here.”

Deb Boucher Stetson is the editor of Cape Cod LIFE.

Cape Cod Life Publications