Detroit-born, Adrienne Walker, is the owner and operator of Blue Henry, a local Maryland company that makes cocktail ingredients. This growing business recently marked its five-year anniversary on its mission to offer simple, fun and sustainable products to its customers.
Walking into their Capitol Heights location, you are hit with a pleasant aroma that radiates from fruit being prepped for flavorful, healthy and aesthetically pleasing products. Blue Henry began selling fruit syrups and candied fruit, free from high fructose corn syrup, gluten, preservatives and artificial flavors. Demand for “plain” dehydrated fruit has substantially grown Adrienne’s business in the last few years. Though, these products are anything but plain. The dehydrated fruit alone can be infused in oils, mixed into bath products, used to decorate and add flavor to baked goods and cocktails.
“We honor craft and want to provide a beautiful product, supplementing what a crafter does, whether it’s for cocktails or teas!” -Adrienne Walker
From at-home mixology sessions to booming businesses, having these garnishes already prepared is beneficial in multiple ways, including being sustainable.
Food waste is the largest contributor to landfills. Restaurants and bars are some of the largest contributors since preparation, customer leftovers and spoilage lead to daily disposal of food waste. Laws like Maryland House Bill 264 are tackling food waste from top waste generators by regulating composting, but there are practices that can reduce waste before composting. Blue Henry combats opportunity for waste by selling a ready-made product with longer shelf life which is more cost effective and has made cocktail or dessert preparations easier. It even reduces the time and money spent for employees to clean, cut and slice fruit that may go to waste.
Before composting, Blue Henry looks for creative ways to utilize as much of the fruit as possible. For instance, if a piece of dehydrated fruit cracks, it can be incorporated into other products like the sugar rims they make or it could get bundled into packages that were bound to be ground up by tea companies, anyway!
Blue Henry began production with just a couple of staff for the first year. Over time, they gained over 15 diverse staff as a certified Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE), since 2019. As staff and customer support grew, the small location they were working out of was a bit too small, though there was another push. The company wanted the opportunity to choose what happens to its waste.
Some commercial buildings take on the task of arranging disposal options for their tenants. While this may be a relief for some, it’s tough knowing that composting doesn’t get as much traction even though it can transform tons of waste that would otherwise get sent to a landfill into nutrient-rich compost.
Adrienne decided to relocate to a larger facility where she could have more autonomy over how she runs her business. After joining Compost Crew, Blue Henry has decreased its trash by over 60% by recycling paper, cardboard and food scraps. The company also tries other sustainable tactics like using resealable bags, reusable toters and mesh racks instead of disposal liners on its trays. Oh, and they always make sure to remove those pesky produce stickers before cutting up the fruit to ensure they don’t make their way into our loads.
“We didn’t realize how much waste we would have but when you start seeing the volume, you look at every part of your business and try to find ways to be more responsible. Not just a consumer. This big move prompted big changes. We knew our intent, researched who could handle our quantity and chose Compost Crew. I compost with them at home, too!” – Adrienne Walker
Growing up, her kids would plant and grow things in their compost-filled garden beds. Adrienne and her family continue their sustainable practices by composting at home.
Compost Crew is proud to see owners like Adrienne grow and sustain their efforts to create more green businesses. We are hoping to have years of fruitful partnership with Blue Henry!