Willie Bevan, Founder of Ella’s Forest, recounts his family adventures in the realm of wild organic blueberry farming and tells us of their high quality products that are shipped all over the globe. DeliveryRank has the pleasure…
Ella’s Forest is a family farm based in Fort Augustus Prince Edward Island. We not only grow organic wild blueberries, but manufacture them into wild blueberry powder and teas which we ship worldwide. Having grown up close by on a mixed beef farm, you could say farming is in Willie’s blood. But raising animals was not for us as we would end up with the largest farm zoo ever, not ever being able to sell one of our pets. When our daughter Ella was born, we bought some land close to the family, and eventually, maybe due to that latent farming DNA, our wild blueberry farm was formed.
We really don’t think we are any different from most family farms. We all rise daily, put our boots on and put in a long day’s work. All of us are proud of our little part in the world’s food supply. But maybe this is the answer to your question. Being a family farm.
Family farms are disappearing at an alarming rate. Once the norm of the agriculture landscape, family farms have been absorbed by resource hungry corporate farms. Gobble, gobble, gone.
Challenges? Every day is a challenge. Any farmer will tell you from the moment they take their first sip of morning coffee (or blueberry tea) to the moment they close their eyes at night, challenges are being thrown at us, left and right. Breakdowns, supply chain issues, employee shortages, they all top the list. But the biggest challenge we have faced as a fledgling farm is visibility. We have exceptional, healthy products and nobody knows about them. Build it and they will come? No, it didn’t happen like that. It is spiraling on the right trajectory now, but it was kind of bleak at first.
Wow, a simple question but a two year answer. Yes, that’s right. It takes two whole years for a wild blueberry to grow. Nothing genetically modified on our farm so we follow Nature’s design as closely as possible. Year one is the vegetative year. The wild blueberry plants with the right nutrients, moisture and, of course, sunshine grow from ground level to a height of almost twelve inches. By the end of the first year the buds have matured and the plant is ready for a long winter’s hibernation.
Year two begins with a burst of color as white and pink blossoms open with the warming of spring. Nature’s little pollinators do their thing and fields are abuzz (pardon the pun) with native bees, including bumblebees (our favorite). And then we wait. Like impatient to-be parents, we walk our fields many times over the summer anxiously waiting for our little green baby berries to turn purple and then blue.
Finally it is harvest time. Each day mid-August to early September we harvest our berries and transport them back to our shop where they are cleaned (green and squashed berries and leaves are removed) and promptly stored in our freezer to await processing. When winter roars in and farming grinds to a halt, we don our aprons and begin to make powder and tea and ship it out to our customers. The common denominator in this whole two year process is our family. The whole two year adventure is enjoyed by the same individuals. How many companies can say that?
The future of the organic food industry? We have been pondering this as well. When we first began farming, we were bright eyed and bushy tailed and believed with a little hard work, organic farming could save the world. How naive we were. We have grown to believe now that the future of organic farming may not be organic at all, but a regenerative blend of organic and non- organic practices.
Mimic Nature with emphasis on both pollinator and wildlife habitat along with water retention practices in all field designs. Develop more earth friendly fertilizers and pest deterrents and use them when necessary, not as a habit.
This future must be consumer driven. Everyone should educate themselves on where their food comes from and abandon those purveyors of food not farmed with sustainable, low carbon methods. It can be as simple as looking in your fridge or freezer today and asking yourself “Do I know the farmer who grew this?” Pick one item each month and you will be off to a great start. If others did the same, our world would be a better place. How will Ella’s Forest contribute? Come visit and see. Come meet us wild blueberry farmers and talk about what we are doing. Our farm is open to all.
Hey, thanks for asking. It is a real family production. I wrote the story, Amy fixed all my mistakes (there were a lot of them), and Ella illustrated each chapter. When Ella was younger, (she is sixteen now), we were lucky enough to own a pair of mules: Jill and Jane. One of the stories we would tell Ella was that mules are really dragons hiding in this form so they can live amongst humans and not be discovered.
So we combined this story with some elves and gnomes and developed a never-ending story about the ‘Imaginary creatures’ that live and interact amongst humanity. Set in present time, this book chronicles our world, and the silliness of it, through the eyes of elves and gnomes.
Book two, The Gathering is due out in the fall of 2023. Look forward to more editions of the Saga of Mik and Min soon. Available wherever you buy your books, but most importantly on our website: