Photo by Antony Trivet
British Columbia is home to major Blueberry production in Canada. According to Statistics Canada, in 2021, farms in BC accounted for approximately 27000 acres of Highbush berry production which was further revealed to be 88.6% of Canada’s total production. There is an all-time high when it comes to Blueberry production due to increasing exports resulting in farmers shifting from raspberries to Highbush blueberry crops. (Statistics Canada: Mushroom, greenhouse and highbush blueberry farming play pivotal role in British Columbia, 2022).
Since everything comes with its pros and cons. Almost 3 million pounds of blueberries are declared unfit for consumption and further routed for waste every year because of climate change. If we are able to rejuvenate just 1% of blueberries that are wasted then we can save up to 300,000 pounds in BC. Normally, most of the farmers don’t know how to deal with these excess berries, but we have complied 6 different ways to make your efforts relevant!
Where there’s way, there’s Jam.
Blueberries can be processed into various value-added food products such as jams, jellies, preserves, and sauces. Many processing plants in BC turn excess berries into jams and syrups which become a perfect toping for your Sunday afternoon treat. By processing the wasted blueberries, you can also extend their shelf life by doing this. Organizations such as AgroConnect are potentially looking towards accepting blueberries and processing them to make either jams or fertilizers to continue their mission of environment sustainability.
Boost Your Livestock’s Nutrition
Blueberries, even if they are slightly damaged or overripe, can still be fed to animals such as chickens, pigs, or goats. Blueberries are a great source of minerals and antioxidants. However, overripe berries might contain high levels of sugar and should be further deemed for consumption by animals accordingly (Meeblueberries: taking care of our environment).
Boost Your Soil’s Nutrition
Blueberries can be composted & used as a natural fertilizer. When mixed with organic matter such as leaves and food scarps, blueberries can enrich the soil, providing nutrients and improving its overall quality. You can also contact your local fertilizer tester/manufacturer to help you develop a fertilizer from your excess blueberries. (Science Direct: Sustainable blueberry waste recycling towards biorefinery strategy and circular bioeconomy: A review, 2021).
Chill Out and Save for the Future
Instead of deeming your blueberries as excess. You could also freeze your blueberries to increase their shelf life. Then furthermore, you could use these berries in your smoothies, oatmeal or even yogurt. (Food print: How to use leftover berries).
Bye-Bye Pesky Pests
The strong scent of blueberry crops and leaves are a great source of repelling unwanted guests at your farm. Particularly the leaves, can act as a natural animal repellent due to their scent. You can use this to your advantage to deter pests and protect your crops from rabbits and deers.
It is important to understand that your trash could be someone’s gold. There are multiple food banks and facilities in BC that are willing to accept these blueberries. These food bank organizations also have connections with local livestock farmers who can use these berries to feed their livestock. Organizations like AgroConnect and the Animal Food bank could be your go to stop for such requirements. While there are multiple ways to make use of excess berries from your farm, the easier option is to either sell them to a nearby processing plant or donate them to your nearest food bank.