Superfresh Growers in year two of Norris Farms partnership
- by Keith Loria | June 25, 2020
Domex Superfresh Growers has 700 acres of blueberry fields in Roseburg, OR, which is nestled in the Umpqua River Valley. Of the 700 acres, half are organic. The company also has 18 acres of kiwi berries, which is harvested in September after the blueberry harvest concludes.
“We started partnering with Norris Farms in 2019, and this will be our second year of selling blueberries and kiwi berries,” said Catherine Gipe-Stewart, communications manager of the Yakima, WA-based company. “Category data shows blueberries have been off to a great start with California sales. As people are staying home more this summer, they are looking for fresh, seasonal and delicious food to elevate their backyard adventures. Blueberries are perfect for this, as well as full of health benefits.”
One thing that is working well for the partnership is that both companies are multi-generational and family-owned with similar values, helping them to work well together.
“Our collective farming, sales, and logistical expertise, combined with mutual multi-generational farming knowledge, make the two companies a great match,” Gipe-Stewart said.
Since the pandemic started, Domex Superfresh Growers has had an amazing COVID-19 response team that has been working countless hours to ensure the company follows CDC, L&I, and DOH guidelines, while also producing delicious fruit.
“We have been documenting our safety measures on social media,” Gipe-Stewart said. “We also have a blog about it — Warehouse Safety During COVID.”
The weather in the area for this crop year has been cooler than usual, which can be a good thing for the blueberries, Gipe-Stewart said.
“It will be in our favor in creating more uniform size and helping to increase brix,” she said. “We expect excellent quality this year. We hand-pick our fresh blueberries, which ensures the highest quality and prevents bruising and damage. Hand-picking is the only time the berries are handled by hand, after that, we use our optical sorter to sort out green berries and ensure the best quality is packed.”
The company is unique in the area as it can easily create a mixer load of organic and conventional blueberries, cherries, apples, pears, and apricots all summer.
“We can meet retailer needs on all these items,” Gipe-Stewart said. “Retailers should be cross merchandising with fresh cheeses, wines, and even grilling and backyard items. Blueberries are an ideal item for elevating backyard gatherings with family and friends.”
Domex Superfresh Growers shared three blueberry videos to connect with the produce industry during United Fresh Live! These include “Peaches to Pearls, Blueberry Nutrition & Greek Yogurt Blueberry Muffins; The Nutrition Addiction, Drinking During Quarantine, Blueberry Coconut Smash; and “Superfresh Growers Blueberry Field Tour with Norris Farms.
“Join multi-generational Norris Farms during the first few weeks of blueberry harvest,” Gipe-Stewart said. “Sisters Carrie and Ellie Norris, father Paul Norris, and Gage Thompson will walk us through harvesting blueberries by hand, Umpqua River valley geography, farming organically, and more. We will be taking questions from the audience.”