As she surveyed her patch in the Nambucca hinterland back in 2013, Sandi Cleary realised that her land was perfectly suited for growing blueberries. The idea was that in due course the fruits from the bushes might provide her with an additional source of income.
Sandi was aware of a growing consumer trend towards blueberries because of their health properties and was intent on ensuring her berries were organically grown and organically certified. At the time Sandi was yet to fully realise that blueberries would be identified as one of the world’s top ten superfoods.
While waiting for her bushes to get to the stage of bearing a substantial and viable crop, Sandi set about developing what was to be an interim measure on sourcing blueberries from other local growers that would otherwise be discarded and turn them into a range of value-added products.
She busied herself making jam; then experimented with sauces, cordials and marinades. Her experiments were simply so delicious that friends and family encouraged her to progress to a fully-fledged business. With the support of ETC business advisor, Bonnie Capell, Sandi took her products to market, literally, the Bellingen Market, Coffs Farmers Market and the Harbourside Market. Blushing Blueberries was an immediate hit and people loved the concept of the locally created gourmet produce. By early 2016 a new gourmet food business was established for the Coffs Coast and well on the way to achieving success.
Throughout the whole of the time that Sandi was establishing her blueberry farm she was also studying for her Diploma of Horticulture and Diploma of Organic Farming with TAFE at Coffs Harbour. Adding to her horticultural success in establishing an organic blueberry orchard of best practice, in 2015, her TAFE tutors identified Sandi as one of their star pupils.
For her studious efforts Sandi graduated in 2015 with two Diplomas (with distinctions) and was nominated for the 2016 Australian Institute of Horticulture Student of the Year Award, the national overarching body for all horticulturalists in Australia, which she has now gone on to win.
Sandi is modest in responding to their praise. “I am delighted with the win. My tutor, agronomist and now blueberry consultant Marc Percival from Agrisense has been my life support throughout the past three years” says Sandi. “I have a much stronger understanding of and connection with the land through my studies. The philosophy behind Blushing Blueberries will definitely reflect my passion for organics, soil and plant health and growing the best, healthiest and most nutrient dense blueberries possible”.
Blushing Blueberries’ products are found in good food stores across the Mid North Coast. In addition the products are used across catering networks and Matt Golinski – a nationally renowned chef based on the Sunshine Coast – recently confirmed that he is now using Blushing Blueberries’ products in his cooking.
Sandi continues to enjoy selling her products at local markets and can be found at most regional food and wine festivals. She encourages people to “like” Blushing Blueberries on Facebook and on Instagram to keep up with the latest news and product releases.
If people are unable to get to the markets, they can contact Sandi on her mobile 0466 280 998 or by emailing email@example.com