Can you tell us a little about Ella’s Forest and how you got started in the farming of organic wild blueberries?
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, every animal would be a pet and we would have the largest zoo ever , so we decided on wild blueberries.
What sets Ella’s Forest apart from other blueberry product companies?
We really don’t think we are any different than 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 being absorbed by resource hungry corporate farms. Gobble, gobble, gone.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a producer of organic wild blueberries?
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 the 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.
Tell us about your first book “Mother Nature’s Plan”
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 human 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.