Category Archives: Businesses

You-pick berries

 I’ve often been curious about a U-Pick Berry Farms and Farm Stands and wanted to learn more about the business side of the operation. In my research I came across two articles that focused agritourism and the farm experience customers are looking for. Both articles had similar messages in that successful agritourism businesses have things to: see, do, and purchase. Although the articles are from out of state, they demonstrate the success of many varieties of value added agritourism business to the farm operation, which is of specific interest to me. CZ Anchorage
University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service. 2004. Agritourism. Available online: You-pick  13 October, 2016.
Adam, K. L. 2004. Entertainment Farming and Agritourism. Available online: Agritourism.  Accessed: 13 October, 2016.

Saskatoon farm economics


On this webpage there is a downloadable link (titled: ‘SFC 2016 Econ Saskatoons’ and found in the middle of the page) to a presentation about the economics of growing saskatoons.  Although it is based in Michigan and estimates costs for a 5 acre production, it still shows is interesting to see an analysis for cost and profit for this berry.  He starts showing the economic analysis on slide 36, if you want to skip ahead to that. KD Fairbanks

The Saskatoon Institute of North America’s mission is to support commercial production and marketing of saskatoons.  It’s worth cruising around the site!    Saskatoons

Driscoll Website

Driscoll’s  –  I had no idea what this site was, I just saw something about Life & Joy. I was peeking through the website and it is sort of a business/blog where they pick berries and they donate them to food banks and such. They post  recipes as well. I have never actually seen the Driscolls brand at the store, but maybe I should look a little harder, if I see nice berries I usually dont pay much attention to the brand, but maybe I should start. Driscoll’s talks about having the “finest berries” since 1872 because of the way their farmers pick them. I wonder if their is much difference from farm to farm the way they harvest their berries or if it just depends on the area they are in, what kind of soil and how they upkeep it.

A Blueberry Farm

     I visited Washington State and biked past a blueberry farm in the Skagit Valley.  I stopped for a mini photo shoot (see attached photos). I didn’t see any signs to indicate the name of the farm, however when I did a little search on the internet, my guess is that is was a field belonging to Bow Hill Blueberries(1), established in 1947. They have 4500 plants and seem to do a thriving business including value-added products, U-pick and retail sales of fresh berries. According to their website they employ only 4-6 part-time, year-round employees and up to 25 kids and adults to had-harvest and pack 60,000 lbs of blueberries.

   I became curious about start up costs and efforts for blueberry farms and found a nice analysis put out by Oregon State University(2). Although interesting, we have such a different situation in Alaska and especially in the Interior. Some differences that I can think of:

 1. Material costs for infrastructure are higher in Alaska due to shipping
2. Plant material differs due to climate. The farms in Oregon, Washington and even in Southcentral AK can grow different cultivars of blueberries successfully. From my (limited) observations, Interior blueberries growers might be best off growing the native species.
3.Alaskans have a do-it-yourself mentality and I wonder how in demand the purchase of blueberries would be considering there are so many available to pick on one’s own for free in the wilds of AK.
4. The native bog blueberry fruits are quite small and if grown commercially the harvesting techniques and speed of harvest might be slower than larger-fruited cultivars  5. Finding laborers to pick the crop may be challenging. Value-added products might be necessary for profiting from a blueberry farm in the Interior.
Again, I have more questions than I do answers. I believe that we have a potential opportunity to capitalize on our local bog blueberry, their distinct flavor and high antioxidant levels compared to other blueberries (3). However, there is a lot to be figured out for helpful guidelines of how to profit from growing blueberries in a cultivated setting in the Interior.
1. Bow Hill Blueberries. Website
 2. Julian, James W. et al. 2011. Blueberry Economics: The costs of establishing and producing blueberries in the Willamette Valley. North Willamette Research and Extension Center, Oregon State University.
3. Dinstel, Roxie Rodgers et al. 2013. The antioxidant level of Alaska’s wild berries: high, higher and highest. International Journal of Circumpolar Health 72: 10.3402/ijch.v72i0.21188.

The Most Expensive Jam in the World?

Do you have extra money to burn, how about some jam?   Jam

Honeyberry Source

This website is for Honeyberry USA, which is a berry farm that sells cultivated berry bushes. They are located in Minnesota, so most of their berry bushes are cold-hardy. They mostly sell honeyberry bushes, but also have gooseberries, currants, and juneberries. Another item they sell is a mechanical pollinator for berry bushes. Honeyberry Source

Alaska Berry Wine

I was thinking about local berry farms and berry products, and here is one more way to use berries- – wine. Alaska Berry Wine I would be curious to try some of those, I’m typically thinking about grapes when I think of wine, but I guess there is nothing wrong in making it from other berries. Or (check this website) even rhubarb….

Alaska Berries

Alaska Berries is a family farm and winery located on the Kenai Peninsula.The Olsen family operates the farm and winery; they are the only certified Alaska Grown winery in the state, utilizing numerous varieties of cultivated berries grown on their farm. Haskaps, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, saskatoons, gooseberries, and currants can all be found growing at the farm and are then processed on-site into wines, jams, and syrups.

Visit their website to learn more or read this article from the Redoubt Reporter

And if you are in Kenai-Soldotna, stop by their tasting room to sample their delicious product!Alaska BerriesRedoubt Reporter

Asian Markets for Berries from Finland

Asian Berry Markets

Business workshop for specialty foods

How to start a speciaty foods business in Alaska

How to start a speciaty foods business in Alaska