TRACADIE (GNB) – Twenty local growers have received lease offers to develop wild blueberries at the former Tracadie Range following a request for proposals. About 11 per cent of the area has been set aside to develop wild blueberries.

“Our government is pleased to be working with local growers to stimulate the local economy,” said Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Margaret Johnson. “We are fortunate to have wild blueberries growing naturally in the northeastern part of our province. We look forward to responsibly developing wild blueberries on the range. Conservation is a high priority, and forested wildlife corridors will be in place in targeted zones as well as buffers that are larger than required around waterways and roadways. Once completed, this project could serve as a model for sustainable wild blueberry development in North America.”

About 70 per cent of wild blueberry production in the province is in the Acadian Peninsula. According to an economic impact assessment report conducted for NB Blueberries, northeastern New Brunswick is expected to generate more than $610 million in economic activity from wild blueberry development over the next 12 years.

“The development is important for us and our community,” said Bernard Savoie, owner of Services Agricoles Savoie Ltd. “The Acadian Peninsula should be proud to have such a valuable resource. We want our children to stay in our community. We are offering them an opportunity to do just that.”

The wild blueberry sector is the province’s second largest horticultural commodity with farm cash receipts over a five-year period averaging $40.4 million.

“New Brunswick is one of only five places in the world where wild blueberries are grown and commercially produced. This is a natural advantage for our province,” said Donald Arseneault, executive director of NB Blueberries.  “As a major industry in the northeastern region of New Brunswick, wild blueberry operations support employment, income and generate spending in the area’s economy which helps increase income levels within our local communities. We congratulate the local growers who received lease offer letters and we look forward to working with them and the Government of New Brunswick on moving the project forward.”