Husband and wife team, Larry Martin Sr. and Jenny Martin moved to Kentucky from Michigan in March 1995.
Larry grew up in the Grand Junction area in Michigan which is the blueberry capitol of the world and where the Michigan Blueberry Growers Association is located.
From a young age Larry worked in the blueberry fields with his duties expanding along with his age and experience. By the time he graduated high school and was ready for college he knew how to handle every aspect of a blueberry farm, from picking, weed control, spraying, trimming, cleaning, you name it he had done it, many times!
Larry went on to college and to become a Department of Natural Resources officer and later a pet store owner in Michigan, during this time he got married and had two sons. Larry being a very driven person was looking for something new and of course profitable; he tried a couple of business ideas but the lure of blueberries kept calling him so he purchased a blueberry farm that he had worked on as a young boy and that he had a lot of great memories of.
Larry and Jenny worked the blueberries together. They started a blueberry nursery and along with the fruit in the fields were "surviving".
In 1995 after having both lost their mothers in 1994 they followed a dream and moved to Kentucky. It was no small move, 5 big U-Haul trucks, some stacked to the ceiling with blueberry plants and others with personal belongings.
Larry and Jenny could not believe how happy the blueberry plants were with this climate, they grew like weeds. They started planting and of course had to propagate so they could plant more. According to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture at the time of their move Larry and Jenny brought more blueberry bushes with them than were in the state of Kentucky! Well word soon spread and people wanted to see what these "northerners" were doing, and often wanted to purchase a few plants on their visits. Jenny got a job doing nursing care and later working at a toll booth while Larry stayed home and planted, and planted, and planted, all by hand, thousands of blueberry bushes. Well during a layoff Jenny decided to see what she could do for the business with the computer and this thing called the internet. For someone with no experience or education with computers or the internet she didn't do too bad.
With Jenny's blueberry growing experience came the desire to know all she could about what she was doing, this led to intensive study on the how too's and why's of blueberries, an education that really is never ending, and since they were considered the "experts" on blueberries in Kentucky they started getting asked to speak here and there on blueberries. They have been on TV, on Radio, in Newspapers, and to many Agriculture events. Larry is quite shy; so this initial promotion was done by Jenny, and believe me shy she is not shy!
Larry and Jenny have in the past and continue to work closely with University of Kentucky, Western Kentucky University, UK Cooperative Extension Agencies and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.
Larry and Jenny started the Kentucky Blueberry Growers Association in 2002; the KBGA website is at www.blueberrygrowers.com. The KBGA had a slow start; they started with a survey, a membership drive, a few newsletters, and bi-annual meetings. Now it has grown from there to include over 160 members in Kentucky and numerous out of state members. The KBGA sponsors the family friendly Kentucky Blueberry Festival every year on the historic downtown square in Edmonton, KY. The eleventh annual festival was just celebrated in June, 2012. The Kentucky Blueberry Growers Association now even boasts the first every blueberry warehouse in Kentucky located at 1103 West Stockton Street in Edmonton, Kentucky.
Larry and Jenny are members of Grace Union Baptist Church in Edmonton, Kentucky. God has blessed Larry and Jenny with quite a nice life. They enjoy fishing, boating, kayaks, metal detecting, bigfoot searching (this one is Larry's !), Jenny collects Breyer horse models and they just plain enjoy God's Blessings on this earth.
Now due to Jenny's health problems Larry has taken over the speaking engagements and the day to day operations of the business.
Blueberries thrive extremely well in this moderate climate and Larry and Jenny are pleased to be a part of this up and coming industry in Kentucky.
If you would like to get into this rewarding business or are just plain curious let Larry or Jenny know. They are happy to help new growers, back yard gardeners or anyone interested in learning about blueberries.