Approximately 50 family members and friends were on hand Friday afternoon as Brantley County’s newest business held its grand opening.
Brantley County Blueberries, an 8,125-square foot cooler packaging facility in the Industrial Park, is owned and operated by blueberry farmers Jonathan Reed and Jeremy Crews. Brantley County Blueberries will be connected with Michigan Blueberry Growers (MBG).
“We’re going to be packaging fresh blueberries,” said Reed. “We’re connected with MBG and we will employee about 20-25 workers. We’ve already packaged about 4,000 pounds in the first couple of days.”
Reed said he hopes the facility will package close to a half-million pounds in blueberries this year. Brantley County Blueberries will operate seven days a week from 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.
There are 25 blueberry growers in Brantley County, according to Reed, cultivating between 550-600 acres of the juicy fruit.
“We’ll be going strong when the Rabbiteyes start coming in,” said Reed. “Right now we’re getting a few southern highbush.”
Early season southern highbush will ripen 2-3 weeks before early rabbiteyes, and mid-season varieties will ripen 8-12 days before early rabbiteyes. The rabbiteye blueberry is native to south Georgia. Rabbiteye cultivars ripen from late May through late July
“We are proud of the local support,” Brantley County Development Authority Executive Director Dr. Richard Thornton stated. “This is a business that will add to our tax base.”
Guests were served hamburgers and hotdogs during the festive occasion. Sheriff candidate Robert Thomas, a blueberry farmer, worked the grill. Contractor Stanley Dowling, a candidate for Chief Magistrate, built the facility.
“From start to finish it took about 45 days,” said Dowling. “We did all the iron work and put the metal on.”
MBG is headquartered in Grand Junction, Mich. The cooperative owns and operates state-of-the-art blueberry receiving, pre-cooling, and distribution facilities in Alma, Ga. and Grand Junction.
With a production base of over 300 growers, MBG is the largest grower-owned marketer of fresh and value-added processed cultivated blueberries in the world. MBG Marketing, along with its grower-owners, is actively directing and benefiting from Naturipe Farms’ “Win Every Day” berry marketing strategy.
Naturipe is the world’s leading marketer of top-quality fresh and value-added processed berries, with significant business relationships with all top-tier customers of blueberries.
By RICK HEAD Publisher of the Brantley Beacon