June 19, 2021

Urbana Man finds exotic berries, starts his own business | Top Stories

URBANA, Ill. (WAND) – A man finds exotic berries in Central Illinois and now has his own small business. 

Dustin Kelly is the founder of Autumn Berry Inspired, a local business selling jams, jellies, purees and even wine. All of his products come from the Autumn Olive Tree, known for its small red berries.

The berries are sweet and full of antioxidants. Kelly says he first came to Illinois and found these berries on a walk in Urbana. 

“I found that there was so many of these and then I learned that they were edible, and not just edible but really tasty and delicious.” Kelly said. Officials encouraged the public to stop planting these trees because they were seen as an exotic and invasive species. But Kelly said there was something positive that can come out of this wild fruit.

“We could turn something that was underutilized and making something so delicious and healthy. We can make jams and purees; we can make lots of different things.” Kelly said.

His family helps him pick the berries from the trees. Kelly said it’s their family tradition, going outside together to brush the berries off.

Kelly mentioned how far his small business has come and hopes to see more people use the Autumn Berry. “It’s been a really special experience for me, I love everything I have done with Autumn Berry and love seeing it grow,” he said.  

Now, his company is flourishing. Autumn Berry Inspired can be found in many local shops in the Champaign-Urbana area. For a full list, click here.

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