“In the early days, there wasn’t a lot of university support for organics,” John says. “Anything the organic growers were learning was on their own, through experience, or researching, like I did, by reading really old publications.
In organic farming, there is an appreciation of caring for produce in all stages of the process. “I want to farm below the soil because ultimately that’s where virtually all the nutrition for the fruit set comes,” John says. “The characteristics of the sugar levels, the size, the smoothness of the skin, and the ability for the fruit to handle the rigors of picking and packing—that’s all set in the soil.” As the years went on, John and Cindy continued to expand. Today, Homegrown Farms represents over 80 organic growers, including those who care for our beloved “imperfect” blueberries.
Extreme weather during the various growth stages of blueberry plants can cause different imperfections, like sizing or scarring. The berries are edible and delicious, just not acceptable in main retail markets. With supermarkets refusing to buy off-spec fruit, growers need to overplant to meet their quotas for “perfect” berries, leaving Homegrown with few options for their less-than-perfect—but still perfectly delicious—crops.
When asked why they don’t just sell their small berries to become jam or juice, Homegrown noted that selling berries to a processor actually costs them money. Selling to a jam or juice processor only returns about 30% of the price they can get in the fresh market. Even frozen berry companies refuse to buy their imperfect crops because the overall market is oversaturated with berries.
We’re proud that our ongoing partnership with Homegrown is a step toward bettering our food system and the environment. So keep an eye out for these tasty berries from Homegrown the next time you’re shopping with us: By simply buying these off-spec blueberries, you can reduce food waste, benefit farmers, and help the environment. Talk about a win-win-win!