Promise Land Blueberries celebrates new location

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By Doug Ponder

The LaRue County Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting last Friday for the opening of the new LaRue County location of Promise Land Blueberries in Hodgenville.

Owner Randy Schmidt moved the business last fall from their Munfordville nursery to their current location on 379 McDowell Road in Hodgenville. Schmidt said that they were able to plant three acres of 3 to 8-year-old plants that are currently producing.

“We sell the berries as well as the plants. We have ten different varieties of blueberry plants, all of which do very well here in Kentucky. They range in price from $7.99 for a one gallon pot to $39.99 for a 3 gallon pot with a plant that is 5 to 7-years-old. We also sell some strawberry plants. Hopefully, we’ll have blueberry jam and syrup to sell soon.”

Schmidt said that they got the idea to open the business as they wanted to do something where they could work as a family. Schmidt works with his wife Tonia and their three sons Chandler, 17; Josiah, 16, Matthew, 14 and Luke, 8.

“The three oldest boys work for us and they are a huge help. They’ve helped make it what it is. They all have invested in the business and have plants of their own,” Schmidt said. “Even the 8 year old has 60 plants of his own. When he opened his first savings account he said ‘Dad, I’m a business man, now!’ They see it as an investment for their future, but the greatest part is that we’re doing it together.”

As far as coming up with the idea of selling blueberries, Schmidt said they were thinking about some kind of food product because, no matter what happens with the economy, people will always have to eat. He said Tonia met Larry Martin, who has since retired from the Kentucky Blueberry Growers Association, at an Ag fair and she was intrigued by a sign that said ‘make $20,000 an acre raising blueberries.’

“She asked him if you can really make that much and he said that was what he was netting. That was 8 years ago when blueberries were selling for $2 a pound; they are currently selling for $5 to $6 a pound and growers in Kentucky are netting from $30,000 to $40,000 plus per acre,” Schmidt said. “We had to start small because we didn’t have the funds or the space to plant a couple of acres, so we started with 200 bare root plants. Larry taught us how to propagate them and we started raising nursery stock. When we moved to Hodgenville last fall we had over 10,000 potted plants to move. It took us over two months to move them all.”

Schmidt went on to say that the name “Promise Land Blueberries” came from when they moved to Kentucky from Colorado almost nine years ago. The family was looking for a new start as he was working more than 100 hours a week in an oil field and he never had much time to spend with his family.

“Colorado was beautiful and all, but when we moved here, we felt like in many ways we were moving to the Promise Land. Moving to Kentucky has been one of the best things we’ve ever done,” Schmidt said. “So, when we started this business it just seemed natural to call it Promise Land Blueberries.”

Promise Land Blueberries are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information call 270-358-9777.