Fresh Thoughts: Tackling the Pacific Northwest During Super Bowl Weekend
In my early tenure here at NABC, I’ve been fortunate to visit a number of the industry’s production regions.
I traveled to Michigan in September, Washington State in October (our Fall Meetings), Florida in December, Georgia and North Carolina in January, and I just returned from British Columbia and Oregon last week.
Each visit, meeting and farm tour brings together a better picture of the whole and how it’s working together to drive the blueberry industry today.
The British Columbia Blueberry Council invited me to speak at the Pacific Ag Show during their annual “Blueberry Day.” While I was there, I had the opportunity to visit a few processing facilities and tour through some of the blueberry fields of Canada.
I was amazed at the concentration of the production in Abbotsford and the number of packing facilities there to help process all of the production that comes in during the summer. I was also amazed to hear about the price of land there and what people are paying just for the property, with or without blueberries involved.
A big thank you to BC Blueberry Council Executive Director Anju Gill and Nancy Chong of BC Blueberries for the invitation and hosting me and NABC/USHBC Vice President Alicia Adler while we were in town. It was a great experience and opportunity to be a part of Blueberry Day.
From there, Alicia and I headed south for the Oregon Blueberry Commission’s Blueberry Conference. But not before stopping by my parents’ house in Washington state on Sunday to watch the Super Bowl. Despite living in California, I wasn’t sad to see the 49er’s lose that game to the Chiefs.
The Oregon Blueberry Conference was impressive. I really enjoyed seeing how the industry comes together there in Oregon, and how well organized and informative the day was. I had the opportunity to speak in the afternoon and share a similar presentation that I shared in BC about the important work underway by NABC and USHBC.
I made sure to share the comparison slide between the two organizations, but I also highlighted and encouraged everyone to take advantage of promoting the opportunity to expand the blueberry’s health halo with the American Heart Association’s Heart Check program that we now offer. February is Heart Health Month and we’re doing our part to connect the dots with the industry and consumers about what blueberries can do for heart health.
After the conference, I was able to tour some blueberry farms, including a quick trip to Fall Creek Nursery to meet up with USHBC Health Research Chair Dave Brazelton. I was amazed by the work underway, the commitment involved and the time that it takes for a successful variety to be identified during the breeding process.
I also had the opportunity to visit Mark Hurst’s farm and facility, as well as a quick trip to PanAm and visit with Steve Erickson.
A big thank you to Oregon Blueberry Commission Executive Director Bryan Ostlund and his team for the invitation to speak during their conference and for the warm welcome and reception for Alicia and me.
My next stop is New Jersey.
After our Spring Meetings in Washington, D.C., I’m looking forward to getting over to Hammonton and visiting our farms and folks there.