Wild Maine blueberries are a tradition, one that people poetically write about and families specifically schedule into their summer vacations. This native fruit keeps us anxiously awaiting the first shades of blue for harvest in August, and the appearance of fresh blueberry pies in local restaurants. Simply put, there’s nothing like a wild Maine blueberry.
From Our Field to Your Table in 24 hours
Our goal is to create for you the best fresh-blueberry experience possible, and we work really hard to make that happen. Our wild blueberries are on your table within 24 hours of being harvested. That’s FRESH! You’ll taste the difference.
Wild Blueberries Freeze Beautifully
One of the many amazing things about this super fruit is when frozen, wild blueberries retain their incredible flavor and exceptional nutritional value. Start making room in your freezer; once you try our wild blueberries and learn of their powerful health benefits, you will pack away as many as possible to get you through to the next season. Our customers will tell you, Alexander’s blueberries have a significantly better flavor than supermarket frozen blueberries. There’s a definite difference!
If you are new to this small blueberry with the big taste, know this–once you try a wild lowbush blueberry, no other blueberry will ever satisfy.
Our Naive Choice
Jimmy married me in 1987, his high school sweetheart, and leaving the rugged coast of Maine and my hardworking family of fishermen, I set down roots with him in his hometown of Greenfield. We were drawn by the panoramic views, the beauty of Mt. Katahdin, and the stunning sunsets all visible from the very top of his parent’s blueberry fields. Young and naive we put in a quarter-mile road and lots of expensive power lines just for the privilege of seeing that view every day. With a little more wisdom and common sense, we would have chosen a more accessible location. But nearly 30 years in, we’re thankful for decisions made during those naive days of youthful we-can-do-it boldness. We love it here.
Generations Before Us
Like many farms, our spot on the map has ties to generations of family members who tended this land. Jimmy’s great-grandfather Darrel Harris was the first in the family to care for the blueberry plants that grow here naturally. The stories of old are still being told, but we hear them with a different ear. We’re part of the story now.
Jimmy himself worked every summer in the fields from the time he was old enough to lift a hand-held rake. That work continued every summer until his days of boyhood were exchanged for the responsibilities of adulthood, and full-time work took him away from the annual harvest.
Passing the Baton
When Jimmy’s parents looked to make a change in 2008, we made the decision to buy the majority of the farm and work the land. Jim Sr. and Rosalie kept and still manage the handpicking side of the farm, and Rosalie has an adorable gift shop that adds to our customers’ experience every year.
As is common with a change of hands from the experienced to the young, Jimmy and I had plans. After the first season, we focused on putting our really good blueberries directly into the hands of customers, rather than transporting all of them to the large processors. Very few Maine farmers fresh pack their blueberries for direct sale to the public. But we were convinced that with a lot of hard work, equipment upgrades and the right people, we could make that happen. It was 2010. We were no longer young, but still slightly bold.
Another Cliche’ Garage Story
We started in our garage. No really, we did. For each of the first two seasons, we completely emptied the garage, washed down the entire interior, assembled the processing equipment, and hired our two teenagers Monica and Tyler with a crew of other young people to help us box the blueberries in 10 lb boxes. Finding customers started with phone calls to local family and friends, and small $2 ads in the local Penobscot Times. When an order was ready, we called folks and they met us on the front porch of our home to pick up their blueberries. We only sold a few hundred boxes that first season, but when some of those customers came back twice and three times in the short three-week season, we knew we were on to something good.
At the end of the 2011 season, we knew we needed a larger, more user-friendly space for fresh packing the blueberries, and overhauling the garage every summer was a lot of work. For the first time, we were unable to meet customer demand, and we didn’t like the idea of turning customers away who wanted our blueberries. We began formulating a plan. With our priorities focused on two in college, we decided to push the date out to 2015, when Tyler was set to graduate.
Our Barn and Those Beautiful Brown Eyes
Good stories often have a milestone that changes the course of well-made plans. This one includes Monica’s “yes!” and preparations for her marriage that began in the fall of 2012. Her father had the ambitious idea that the barn we planned to build would also be a wonderful location for her summer of 2013 wedding. With excited anticipation in her beautiful brown eyes, she agreed. He’s always been a softy for those big brown eyes. And it was indeed a beautiful wedding.
The dedicated processing room and the open floor plan of the barn made the 2013 season an entirely different experience for us and our customers. The increased footprint of the processing room gave Jimmy the space to expand the original equipment, increasing the amount of blueberries we were able to process each day. The crew had a much more comfortable working space, and we had a more accessible and welcoming pick up location for our customers. And best of all, we didn’t have to turn anyone away empty handed. The new barn, two years ahead of schedule, was a win-win.
He Makes it Look Easy
Jimmy’s creative mechanical mind is the reason we can offer our customers a great product at an affordable price. He keeps our machinery in top-notch condition and continually makes improvements and upgrades to make us efficient. In 2015 he added a cold room inside the barn for chilling the blueberries the moment they leave the field. Cooled berries are easier to fresh pack, and the customer walks away with a better product.
We work hard in the off-season paying close attention to best-method farming practices for our 40 acres of lowbush wild blueberries. There is continual mowing, brush cutting and rock removal. We take plant and soil samples to determine nutrient levels, and we scout the fields to monitor plant health all throughout the growing season.
You All Amaze Me
One of the most surprising changes since our first fresh-pack season, is the expanded geographic area of our customer base. And one of the most delightful is the number of you who return each year and have become more like friends than customers. One of my favorite long-distance wild blueberry enthusiasts is Ilga from Virginia. She travels by well-worn road map and a wonderful sense of adventure. She is a delight. But she’s not the only one who travels a long distance. Customers roadtrip here from New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and numerous towns and cities in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and all over Maine. Our blueberries have traveled in carry-on luggage as far west as Arizona and countless points in between. Every summer I am amazed at the distance people travel for our wild lowbush blueberries, and the efforts made to transport them to family and friends. We’ve developed a wonderful community of folks who love Maine’s delicious super fruit.
You Will Never Look Back
If you have not yet experienced the flavor burst of a handful of fresh wild Maine blueberries, a piece of wild blueberry pie with a dollop of vanilla ice cream, or a wild blueberry smoothie, you’re in for a never-look-back experience. There’s nothing like a wild Maine blueberry.
To our wonderful customers, thank you for supporting our farm. And to those new to Alexander’s Wild Maine Blueberries, welcome. I look forward to meeting you on the barn porch.
– Denise (Joyce) Alexander
After picking up 40 pounds of our wild blueberries and venturing to the coast for a taste of Maine lobster and a good night’s rest, long-distance customer Ilga sent me a departing e-mail. The following is a portion of what she wrote:
“Your blueberries are priceless in terms of what they contribute to my well being throughout the year. Today I look forward to driving the 11 hours home with the smell of your blueberries ever-present and to dropping off one of the boxes in Pennsylvania to a farmer’s family whose wonderful produce also contributes greatly to my well being. I cannot think of a better thank you to the farmer’s family than a box of your fresh blueberries.”
– Ilga from Virginia