2018 Annual Guide: Harwich
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.
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