Crystal Springs Cheese
In 1994, Hennie and Tinie Eilers moved to Canada with their 13 year old daughter and 9 year old son. By February 1995, their new farm had a brand new dairy facility and 60 Holsteins. They named their farm Bles-Wold, a hybrid of both of their hometowns, Blesdijke, and Steenwijkerwold, Holland.
They started the yogurt business as a hobby in 1996. Hennie was credited with being the entrepreneur and planner when it comes to yogurt production as part of the Bles-Wold vision.
The yogurt making was just a way for Tinie to give her diabetic teenage daughter a nutritious breakfast that didn't contain added sugars. Since her brother, Gerard, had a small commercial yogurt business on his farm in Holland, she asked him to send her a small (400-litre) pasteurizer and a recipe.
Tinie would whip up batches of mild tasting yogurt in her kitchen and share the home made yogurt with friends and neighbours, and they seemed to like it! She learned that Albertans like their yogurt sweeter and thicker than that found in Europe. Their taste testers also expressed their desire for fruit flavours.
Tinie's husband, Hennie, encouraged her to think about the possibility of making yogurt as a business.
So in 1996, she took her farm fresh yogurt to the Lacombe and Ponoka Farmer's Markets, where it was a hit and that is how it all started. That is when Bles-Wold Yogurt made the leap from Farmer's Markets to grocery stores.
They took the growing pains all in their stride. They made my way through the dizzying labelling regulations with the help of agricultural advisors from the Government of Alberta.
Bles-Wold is a premium product. It travels from the farm's cows in the milking barn to the yogurt production facility in a matter of hours, and arrives on grocery shelves in a matter of days. This freshness and a tight control over production have meant business is booming!
These days, Bles-Wold yogurt, and now sour cream, is sold at 100 different locations across Alberta, and is produced in their federally inspected facility right there on the farm.