Crossing the Narraguagus River, into the small town of Cherryfield, it doesn’t take long to spot the blueberries — it is the blueberry capital of the world after all.
A white sign attached to a mailbox, announcing Intervale Farm, could easily be missed if it weren’t for the shack out front where freshly picked blueberries are sold.
Owned by husband and wife Hugh and Jenny Lassen, Intervale Farm is a family enterprise specializing in organic, low-bush blueberries.
The Lassens moved from New York City to Maine nine years ago. While in Manhattan, they both worked for Battery Park City Parks Conservancy — Hugh as a dockmaster and Jenny as a gardener.
A sculptor, Hugh wanted to devote more time to his artwork so the couple pursued an alternative lifestyle that would permit that. They both enjoyed working outdoors, so raising blueberries and the seven-acre property they discovered in Cherryfield seemed a good fit. The parcel was the right size and suitable for organic production.
“We were drawn to the field and drawn to the fruit and it just kind of came together,” Hugh said.
But what makes a blueberry organic?
According to Hugh, conventional fields are sprayed about four or five times a season with different types of herbicides, fungicides and insecticides. The Lassens, however, do not spray their fields at all.
“We do lose some of our crop to various pests and funguses, so we have a slightly lower yield because we are an organic production,” Hugh explained. “But then we have a slightly higher price because we are an organic production.”
The parents of two —Ruth, 6, and Allen, 5 — had their reasons for cultivating organic fruit.
“It’s a philosophical choice,” Hugh said. “We don’t really want to spray in front of our house and in front of our family. Not everyone cares about organics, but some people really do and they will go out of their way to find berries that are organically grown for whatever reason…we’re kind of responding to that market.”
Intervale Farm primarily markets fresh berries.
“We try and only rake the clones [plant] that are ripe so that makes it a little bit of maze [in the field],” he said. “We really try to sell the freshest berries we can and the surplus that we have we freeze when they are at their peak.”
Their season runs from the last week of July to Labor Day. From raking to winnowing, the farm is very much a family operation, Hugh said. Besides selling fresh fruit, Jenny produces “Tin Penny Jenny’s Blueberry Fruit Spread” and “Tin Penny Jenny’s Blueberry Chutney.”
What you’ll find: Fresh and frozen organic blueberries. The fresh fruit is sold in pints and quart sizes, while frozen berries are sold in 5-pound bags and 30-pound bags.
Other products: “Tin Penny Jenny’s Blueberry Fruit Spread,” “Tin Penny Jenny’s Blueberry Chutney”
Where: 199 North Main St., Cherryfield
Contact: 546-2589, [email protected], www.intervaleblueberryfarm.com