Blueberry Farm Stays Busy Year-Round With Creative Blueberry Products
Theresa and Tom Gaffney live in Stockton Springs, Maine where they own and operate their organic blueberry farm, Highland Organics®. Over a decade ago, the farm's primary products were fresh and frozen blueberries sold directly to their customers.
In 2004, a friend visited the farm in search of a National Science Foundation project. The friend was pursuing a doctorate degree in food science and wanted to conduct the project with a nearby high school. Theresa told her friend, Dr. Kristi Crowe, that she always wondered if there was any value in the leaves of a blueberry bush.
Later that fall, Dr. Crowe brought kids from nearby Hampton Academy to the farm and harvested the rich, red leaves. They took the leaves to the high school laboratory for testing to determine how much anthocyanins and/or antioxidants were in the leaves. The unexpected results were good news for Teresa when Dr. Crowe informed her that the leaves actually had more antioxidants than the blueberry itself. The results were backed up by tests run at the University of Maine laboratories.
Knowing the health benefits of blueberries and their leaves, Theresa wanted to explore new ways to develop the previously discarded blueberry leaf. So she applied for, and received three grants from the Maine Institute of Technology in the amount of $21,500. The money funded research and development of what would later be known as Whole Plant Wild Maine Blueberry Tea.
While they were brewing the tea, they would snack on another product Teresa had concocted, blueberry barque. This was made from dehydrated blueberry purée, and is a crunchy blueberry snack. When someone suggested she sell the barque, she decided to give it a try. In Theresa's words, "People love it!"
Now, Highland Organics has year-round sales of these two blueberry products in addition to a variety of other products sold all around the world.