When North American temperatures rise and the season’s first blueberries are delighting in grocery stores, winder fog chills the fertile valleys and woodlands of the agriculturally abundant Araucania region of Chile. There, Valles del Sur’s 1000 acres of certified organic blueberry bushes start to push their first buds under the care of 300 year-round workers.
And as California and Oregon blueberry operations move into autumn rest and pruning, Valles del Sur gears up for harvest. The farm provides important jobs for the local community and each year brings on 1000 skilled seasonal employees to hand pick its flavorful blueberries.
Complimentary growing seasons and shared values of the well-being of employees and the environment make the people of Valles del Sur a welcome addition to the Homegrown family of growers.
Among the first to plan berries in the region in the early 1990s, Valles del Sur is also a pioneer in socially responsible growing practices. Transparency and trust are the roots to the success of the farm.
Valles del Sur has been Fair Trade USA certified since 2018 and takes pride in providing its year-round workers and seasonal harvesters with a safe working environment and access to Fair Trade program benefits like salary bonuses and employee-directed premiums.
Since certification, premiums from fruit sales have helped provide dental and vision care for workers and their families, school supplies for local children, and facility improvements to local grade schools. An emergency fund has also been established to provide support for workers affected by severe illness or disaster.
One worker reports that since implementing the Fair Trade USA program, “You can tell people trust more and feel supported.”
Valles del Sur’s harvest brings five more months of fresh blueberry enjoyment to Homegrown’s lineup. During the Chilean harvest, their blueberries travel to the flagship Homegrown facility in Kingsburg, California. There, the berries are received, inspected, and packed with care by the domestic Homegrown team, sealing this dynamic partnership. United in mission, vision, and values, Valles del Sur and Homegrown are able to provide consumers with flavorful, high-quality, fresh-picked and -packed blueberries all year.