Blues Berry Farm in Plant City is run in an innovative, creative and compassionate way by award-winning owner Susan Persson Dumke and her family. In fact, Dumke was recently honored with the 2016 Woman in Agriculture Award given at the Harvest Awards Luncheon at the Hillsborough County Fair.
Dumke started in corporate American but has spent the last 10 years farming the delicious blueberries that can be found at Costco and Publix (the blueberries are marketed under Wish Farms and others suppliers).
Dumke concerns herself not only with her more than 40,000 blueberry plants, but also with her workers and the environment as well. Dumke makes it a point to get to know every one of her workers. If they have a need, she tries to find ways to help them. An example of this need was demonstrated when Dumke invited a small bank out to the farm to help educate the workers.
“Being in the fields brings something different to the business,” explained Dumke. “We have great employee retention and I want the workers to want to return to us every season.
Dumke utilizes experimental and non-invasive ways to save water and protect the plants from pests. “We are into sustainability and not being wasteful,” explained Dumke who uses kites and fake bird sounds in the fields to fend off pests.
In addition, Dumke has started producing jellies from the end of season harvest which often went to waste previously. “I was just over throwing out all this stuff, and it led to an ‘A-ha’ moment.” Her jellies have been featured at Williams Sonoma.
Soon you will be able to sample some of Dumke’s jelly and other creations when she rolls out her new food truck. She hopes to attend events such as the Plant City Food Truck Rally and the Mayor’s Food Truck Rally in Tampa.
Dumke wants to inspire and motivate others to recycle and save water as a newly elected member of the Soil and Water Conservation District. The blueberry harvest season begins in mid to late March. At the end of the harvest, Blues Berry Farm is open for U pick in early to mid-May depending on Mother Nature. Follow Dumke and Blues Berry Farm on facebook and Instagram.