From Seasonal Agricultural Worker to Wild Blueberry Farm Owner
Ben Perrin arrived in Maine nearly 30 years ago. He came to the state as an agricultural worker and was thrown into the world of wild blueberries, helping to harvest the state’s iconic fruit crop for many summers until he decided to open his own wild blueberry farm in Cherryfield, Maine. Today, he owns and operates Burke Hill Farm. We had a chance to speak to Ben about his farm and the upcoming harvest season. Check out our conversation below.
Q: How long has your farm been in business?
A: I’ve owned the farm since 2000 but have been operating it as my full-time business for 18 years. I started it from scratch, but I want to one day pass it down to my son. He’s only 16 so that’s a far way off.
Q: How many pounds of Wild Blueberries do you grow and harvest annually?
A: 100,000 pounds! We primarily harvest and sell fresh, organic Wild Blueberries – that’s our specialty – but some of our harvest also becomes frozen Wild. Almost all of our harvesting is done with a traditional hand-held rake. Last year, we bought two smaller mechanical harvesters that are about the size of a riding lawn mower. There is a learning curve to harvesting mechanically, and we hope to use them more this summer. However, this year could be different for harvesting and packing, so we’re waiting to see how that turns out.
Q: Where can consumers buy your fresh Wild Blueberries?
A: During fresh season, consumers can buy our wild blueberries directly from us at our farm, at 10 farmers markets (in Maine?), and we ship wholesale fresh wild blueberries all over the Northeast to grocery stores and distributors. I’ve gotten calls from satisfied customers all the way in Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Q: Do you allow tours of your farm?
A: People can take a tour any time of year – although the summer is admittedly the busiest time of the year to see our picking and production in action. Unfortunately, we do not offer “you pick”, but anyone can buy freshly picked Wild Blueberries from our packing shed.
Q: What makes the Wild Blueberry industry different than other Maine industries?
A: There is an inherent value of Wild Blueberries that is unmatched. They’re amazing little creatures – delicious, healthy, and beautiful. I love what I do.
Don’t miss out on a little piece of Maine magic – stop by Burke Hill Farm and taste these tangy, native Maine Wild Blueberries as soon as they’re available in August! Learn more about Burke Hill Farm by following them on social media.