News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

July 18, 2014

Downtown blueberry festival draws fruit lovers

TERRE HAUTE — If things go as hoped, next year’s Blueberry Festival in Terre Haute will be at the new location of Terre Foods Cooperative Market.

At least, that’s what cooperative member David Voltmer believes.

The membership number for Terre Foods has exceeded 700 member-owners, Voltmer said. The magic number that local banks were looking for was 600 members before they would consider financing for the food cooperative.

“We have enough members to be sustaining,” Voltmer said. “What we need now is capital.”

Thursday’s Blueberry Festival has become an annual fundraiser for the whole foods marketplace. Hosted next to Central Presbyterian Church, the event featured vendors, musical performances, and of course, bowls and boxes and containers of blueberries.

Terre Foods began as a growing effort to benefit local growers and the local economy by providing more access to organic and natural foods.

Voltmer and fellow founding member Linda Sturtevant said that a board meeting of the group is set for this evening, and that discussion could include possible locations for the market.

“We have been doing market analysis and looking at properties,” Voltmer said. “We’ve had those done before, but they don’t stay current. This time, I think we will have a store a year from now.”

The board has already reviewed applications for a general manager for the store. And the Bloomington-based Blooming Foods cooperative has been quite supportive of the Terre Foods group, Voltmer said. Some Blooming Foods members assisted at the Blueberry Fest, where tents protected event goers from the sun while local entertainers serenaded the audience.

Among the vendors was Anne Bunch, who sat at a weaving loom and created colorful fabrics that she turns into totebags, placemats and other items for her business, Abunchabags.

Bunch began weaving about three years ago, and now she incorporates recyclable items such as plastic bags into her weaving.

“For me, once I got started, I didn’t want to quit,” she said.

The pleasant weather Thursday was a bonus to vendor Aaron Warner, beekeeper of Yellow House Honey. A repeat vendor, Warner said he has weathered the scorching heat and the windiest winds to connect with those at the Blueberry Festival.

“It’s been a wonderful steady flow of people today. It hasn’t let up all day,” he said at mid-afternoon.

Featuring tea and blueberry plants, Warner’s booth was popular with the festival crowd.

“Last year I gave out a blueberry plant to everyone who joined Terre Foods,” he said.

This year, he didn’t do that, but as of about 2 p.m., another five new members were added to the cooperative.

Festival-goer Betsy Hine was walking around the sunny event with friends Harriett Uhlhorn and Frederica Kramer.

“I come almost every year,” Hine said. “Last year it was hot, hot, hot, and I’ve been here when it’s been rain, rain, rain.”

Uhlhorn enjoyed talking to vendor Warner, who she had known since he was in her preschool class as a child. Warner now is a teacher at South Vigo High School, where both of his sons will be students this coming school year.

“This is my first year at the festival,” Uhlhorn said, “but I’ve been aware of it. I thoroughly enjoy it.”

Kramer said she buys blueberries each year at the festival. She taught food nutrition for several years, and she said she always included blueberries in her lessons.

“They are so high in anti-oxidants. We put them on cereal,” she said.

Blueberries were popular at the festival with those who ate them plain, or added to bowls of ice cream.

Board member Voltmer said he hopes the Terre Foods board can make some announcement soon about its store plans, but the board is taking the advice of other market operators and taking its time.

“It’s better to make a slow decision and do it right, rather than make a quick decision and be wrong,” Voltmer said. “But next year, we hope you can visit us at the store.”

For more information on the Terre Foods Cooperative Market, go online to www.terrefoods.org.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.

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