Upon immigrating to Canada in 1954 with his wife Riek, Case worked odd jobs for three years to raise a down payment for his own farm. In 1957, the van Dyk family purchased a small mixed farm in West Caledonia, where for ten years Case marketed his own milk and vegetables door-to-door. After a shift in production, and with great effort and determination, Case developed the farm into a 200 sow farrow to finish operation.
In the late 1960’s, Case turned his agricultural sights towards the blueberry industry. He gradually accumulated fields until he had amassed over 600 acres of blueberry land and 400 acres of forest. Case began developing his fresh berry business in a rented garage, but within a few years a new, modern fresh pack facility would house the operation. This innovative facility became the heart of production that reached 45-50 tonnes of fresh wild blueberry sales, with remaining tonnage being sold for freezing.
Promoting the nutritional value of the blueberry has been a special passion for Case. From this grew the idea for a premium product that would eventually be found in kitchens around the world. Van Dyk’s Health Juice Products was founded in the late 1990’s, and now processes nearly 150 tonnes of wild blueberries for juice sales in Canada, Taiwan, Korea, China and the United States. Case’s signature product, van Dyk’s 100% Pure Wild Blueberry Juice is just as promised – the pure juice of Grade A wild blueberries without added sugar, water or preservatives.
Case partnered with researchers at Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada and the National Research Council to develop a product that would maintain the high nutritional value of the original fresh fruit, while also being safe and shelf stable. Case’s pioneering product has been recognized on the world stage, taking home the award for Best New Juice Innovation at the 2005 World Juice Congress in Madrid, Spain.
In addition to this prestigious honour, Case has been recognized with numerous awards: 2011 Nova Scotia Wild Blueberry Producers Recognition Award, 2010 Canadian Liver Foundation Liveright Award for best beverage, 2010 Lunenburg-Queens Chamber of Commerce Business Entrepreneur Award, and the 2008 Nova Scotia Institute of Agrologists Outstanding Farm Family Award, to name just a few. While Case remains humble about his achievements, he can be proud of these significant acknowledgments.
Going hand in hand with the fresh berry market and an appetite for producing innovative, healthy products is Case’s latest venture. He is conducting research on utilizing blueberry pomace, a by-product of the juice making process. Blueberry lovers the world over look forward to tasting his newest innovation.
Case recognizes the ongoing contribution of his large family, and acknowledges that without their support, the van Dyk blueberry story would not have been possible. Van Dyk’s family of supporters includes nine children, 19 grandchildren, and one great grandchild. Education is vitally important to Case, and he is proud that all of his nine children acquired post-secondary education.
Case’s life outside of business and family exemplifies his commitment to his community. He has been involved in municipal politics as a Queens County Councillor (1973-1984), sat on the St. Jerome’s Church Parish Council, has chaired and been a member of the North Queens Federation of Agriculture, and continues to be actively involved in the North Queens Board of Trade. Case has also served the educational community of Queen’s County, sitting on both the municipal and regional School Boards. Always willing to give his time, Case’s other involvements include the fire department, AgraPoint, being a long-time blood donor, the Blueberry Growers of Nova Scotia, and the Radio Farm Forum.
Nominated by the Lunenburg/Queens Federation of Agriculture in recognition of his entrepreneurial spirit, commitment to agriculture, and his passion for innovation, Case van Dyk is indeed a deserving inductee into the Atlantic Agricultural Hall of Fame.