Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association

In 2016 and 2017 MOFGA participated in a Maine Technology Institute grant that supported 7 organic, wild blueberry growers in a pilot project to evaluate the potential marketability of blueberry leaves for a variety of potential markets, including tea, beauty products, and nutraceutical products (such as supplements).

As part of that project, Heather Omand worked with the seven growers to track labor and receipt costs in order to develop an enterprise budget for organic, wild blueberry leaves. The numbers in this published budget represent information from seven growers, although certain line items may include information from fewer than seven.

Blueberry leaves have exciting potential as a second crop from an existing enterprise, but do require some special equipment to process. Because they need to be dried well to be of a saleable quality a heat source, air movement, and in most cases a dehumidifier are all essential up front capital costs. Harvesting is done by hand, in a fruit-producing plot, after fruit has been harvested and while the leaves are red, ideally. Leaf harvest is not believed to affect future year’s fruit harvest due to the fact that most growers prune (either mow or burn) the year after a fruit-producing year anyway. 

Testing costs (for microbial presence, moisture, antioxidants, heavy metals, etc.) could be beneficial or required depending on the potential market for the leaves. This project resulted in a clear standard for moisture: the dried leaf product should have no higher than 10% moisture content, and the target range is closer to 8-9% for best quality. This project also reaffirmed what prior research had shown: there is more antioxidant activity in the dried leaves than in the fresh fruit of the plant, although both are considered high in antioxidants.

There are two sheets in the enterprise budget: one for uncleaned leaves and one for cleaned leaves. As part of the grant funded pilot some growers cleaned their leaves of debris and spotted/unusable leaves before giving them to an experienced blueberry leaf tea marketer, and others did not. The amount of labor required in cleaning leaves, and therefore the price necessary per lb., is obviously higher than that of uncleaned leaves, but most markets would probably require this step.

There are many notes and explanations embedded in the enterprise budget. This makes the budget appear a bit overwhelming at first glance, but these notes are meant to make overall use and understanding of the resource easier and clearer.

Download the Organic Blueberry Leaf Enterprise Budgets (Excel file)

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