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Roadwork costing Comox Valley berry farm some business
The owners of Berry Best Organic Farm remain positive, though culvert maintenance on Coleman Road has caused them to lose a significant number of their customers.
"I'd say we're getting about one-third the amount of customers that we usually get," says Dave Aberle, who owns the farm and business with his wife Jane.
Berry Best Organic Farm is located at 2156 Coleman Rd., inside a section of Coleman between Left and Hardy roads which has been closed to traffic for over a week. A culvert on Coleman at Kitty Coleman Creek is being replaced, and Aberle expects the project to finish by the end of this week.
Dave notes the flag people at Hardy Road have been asking drivers if they are going to Berry Best Organic Farm and letting people through the barrier — as the farm is a short way further along the closed section of the road, and the culvert work is much further along the road.
"The flag people have been really good," says Dave. "It's been basically more the spontaneous drive-bys that we've been missing, you know, we've still been getting a lot our good loyal customers that are used to shopping here.
"The (regular) customers have really been going out of their way — literally — to get here."
Dave adds August is a busy time of year for produce sales, with this year especially producing large quantities of blueberries. Because the produce must be sold fresh right after harvesting, the Aberles have been focusing on selling it wholesale lately to move their product.
"Right now, we're just making more calls and doing more wholesale," he says. "We haven't done a delivery to Campbell River in a couple of years but today we went up … to do deliveries in Campbell River, so that's certainly helped out."
Normally, 80 per cent of the business' sales come from retail at the farm and Comox Valley Farmers Market, with just 20 per cent coming from wholesale distribution.
Jane notes local grocers like Thrifty Foods and Edible Island have been helpful in taking more produce off the couple's hands lately.
The Aberles bought their farm on Coleman Road in 2004, after selling Natures Way Farm in Courtenay, which they owned since 1987.
Berry Best Organic Farm offers blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, plus a big selection of vegetables, like tomatoes, squash, carrots, potatoes, salad mixes and kale. Flowers are also for sale.
The farm is open everyday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, check out Berry Best Organic Farm on Facebook or call 250-338-0234. For an alternate route, turn off Highway 19A onto Hardy Road.