Blueberry Haven: a Paradise for Blueberry LoversBy Jane Whitttington on November 16th, 2015 /
Blueberries rule at Blueberry Haven in Grand Haven on the shores of Lake Michigan. That’s a good thing: after all, Michigan is the number one producer of blueberries in the U.S. According to Michigan State University’s Extension Services, Michigan produces over 100 million pounds of blueberries a year. Nutritionists tout their health benefits: they are low in fat and calories (only 80 or so in a cup), packed with vitamin C, full of dietary fiber and high in manganese which aids bone development and helps convert protein, carbohydrates and fats into energy.
And they are delicious!
Tiffany Balk, owner and operator of Blueberry Haven, started small. In her own kitchen, she explored and perfected recipes for blueberry goods and gave them as gifts to friends and family. In 2007, she incorporated as an LLC and began to sell to retail outlets. She developed a staff of home cooks and artisans who worked from Balk’s ideas, inspirations and recipes. In 2011, she had become successful enough to open her own store in downtown Grand Haven.
Balk says, “We live behind a 900 acre blueberry farm, so we always had lots of blueberries available to us. My family loved going berry picking, and I liked making good things to eat with what we picked. I had a history of working in retail (I was a buyer and manager for the Gantos store in Muskegon), and my degree in communications from Hope made me confident that I could develop a successful business. “
She goes on, “I source all my products locally and rely on local kitchens and workshops to make what I sell in the store. I developed our logo and come up with ideas for packaging what we sell. Even our non-blueberry items, like wooden bowls, soaps, candles and tote bags are all locally made. “
While the food sold in the store is made in home kitchens, all are certified by the Department of Agriculture and meet the highest standards. Currently, Balk works with seven home cooks and buys her blueberries local farms. The first products for sale were dried blueberries, milk chocolate-covered blueberries, blueberry jam and pancake mix.
Balk says, “We are always coming up with new ideas and introducing new products. Our latest include blueberry applesauce; a lemon, poppy seed, and blueberry muffin mix; and a blueberry, vanilla, and cinnamon pancake mix.”
The store is open year around, but summer when the tourists flock to the area is their busiest. Also a great place to buy Christmas and holiday gifts, Blueberry Haven will package and ship throughout the country. They also are known for creating corporate gifts which they can personalize with the business name and logo as well as the Blueberry Haven logo. Online is another source of sales.
The store employs seven part-time workers in addition to Balk, and her sons (Keegan, 20, Campbell, 17, and Cayce, 15) help out in the store, especially in the summer and during the holiday season. The 2,600 square foot building they occupy, the formerly occupied by the Muskegon Chronicle, is charmingly decorated with blueberry-centric décor and is a pleasant place to shop as well as sample some of the treats for which the store is known.
This year’s catalog is filled not only with products for sale but also pictures and information about local non-profits. Yu can find more information about Blueberry Haven when you visit their website at www.blueberry-haven.com.