Albany Patch takes a look at the people behind the . Last week, we spoke with Mike Gomez, 22, who said he can't imagine a better way to spend his summer than selling organic blueberries.
What is the name and the location of your farm?
We’re . It’s in between Santa Rosa and Sepastopol, off of Occidental Road, along Highway 12.
What do you sell?
Blueberries primarily, that’s the major crop. We’ve also been growing strawberries, but that’s only sold at the farm stand within the property itself.
Do people tell you they think the prices are too high?
I don’t think so necessarily. I mean they are organic and you will always pay more for organic, mostly because of the market demand. Our consumers are demanding so much more organic, natural foods.
We sold about 76 pounds last week, which is a lot. I brought a lot more berries this week but right now we’re probably, let’s see, we got about an hour and 20 minutes left and I’ve probably sold maybe around close to 60 pounds.
What are the prices for the berries?
For half a pound it’s $5, for the full pound it’s $9. For three pounds it’s $25 and then for eight pounds, it’s $64.
People don’t seem to shy away from the blueberries despite the price.
Every once in a while people do. But most people, I think, after getting an actual taste, and they taste the difference between store blueberries and the actual ones you can get at farmers markets, they realize that the higher price is actually worth it. I offer free samples, maybe two blueberries, and just right away, people who tend to eat blueberries a lot do notice the difference.
How would you describe that difference in taste?
Just sweetness. Usually you’ll buy blueberries and they’ll be really bland and maybe just a little watery and not a lot of flavor. If you eat these ones, they’re just a lot sweeter. It feels like there’s a bit more sugar in them.
So you like blueberries?
I do. They’re delicious.
How do you like the Albany farmers market?
It’s pretty nice. It’s a little small and I know it’s just starting so it’s probably going to take some time for it to get bigger. So hopefully more people will come out and visit it. I like being able to talk to people at least who are interested in knowing where the food is coming from. It is a very cool summer thing. I’m very glad I picked it up.
How did you get connected to the market?
I actually just got hired a week ago so I believe that the owner has been branching out within the Bay Area. And she just kind of heard about it and took them up on their offer. And they’re a relatively new company as well, because blueberries take about six years to grow, to get the vines proper. So they recently just started selling blueberries.
How did you get started selling blueberries?
I actually just graduated from UC Davis and I moved back home to the Sonoma County region over the summer. One of my friends who previously worked for the lady who owns the farm hooked me up for the summer because it is just a seasonal job as blueberries are only seasonal.
Are you only involved in the vending?
I also do a little bit of picking. When I’m actually on the farm I do picking, I do packaging of them, I do labeling and I make boxes.
Do you attend other farmers markets?
I’ve only attended one other farmers market and it’s in Sausalito, since I just started a week ago I’m still getting the groove of things. This is my market, so I’ll be here every Wednesday.
How is the customer flow in Albany?
Last week I got a bit more swamped than everyone else and I’m assuming that’s mostly because I only sell blueberries while everyone else has got a big variety and are competing much more among each other. This week has been a lot slower for me. Every once in a while about one or two people will come up. Sometimes they’ll be in big groups, other times it’ll be the nice steady one person at a time.
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