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In less than a decade, solar installations are expected to cover more than 3 million acres of the United States, creating a big opportunity to pair solar with agricultural land to produce food, conserve ecosystems, create renewable energy, increase pollinator habitat, and maximize farm revenue.

The National Center for Appropriate Technology, a nonprofit focused on sustainable energy and agriculture solutions, has launched the nation’s first AgriSolar Clearinghouse to connect farmers, ranchers, land managers, solar developers, and researchers with trusted, practical information to increase the co-location of solar and agriculture.

“There are tremendous benefits of pairing solar and agriculture,” NCAT Energy Programs Director Stacie Peterson, PhD said. “As America’s appetite for sustainably grown products and renewable energy continues to increase, agrisolar has the potential to provide both resources. AgriSolar is a win-win.”  

NCAT’s AgriSolar Clearinghouse features a library of peer-reviewed information, a media hub featuring videos, podcasts, and relevant news, and a user forum to connect people interested in agrisolar development in real-time.

“The AgriSolar Clearinghouse will present a platform open to all Americans for sharing the nationwide efforts in agricultural integration at solar facilities,” said American Solar Grazing Association Executive Director Lexie Hain. “The exciting thing for us at ASGA is that the AgriSolar Clearinghouse will amplify a thoughtful and trusted approach to expanding America’s efforts in solar and agricultural land use.”

The project’s diverse group of more than 30 partners and stakeholders representing private business, renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, national energy laboratories, the Smithsonian, and leading universities will be a key ingredient in supporting the expansion of agrisolar developments across the country.

NCAT’s AgriSolar Clearinghouse is funded by a three-year, $2.03 million cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The Solar Energy Technologies Office supports early-stage research and development to improve the affordability, reliability, and domestic benefit of solar technologies on the grid.

“NCAT and our partners are well positioned to help solar developers and farmers connect to make the most out of co-locating solar arrays and agricultural land,” NCAT Executive Director Steve Thompson said. “For 45 years, NCAT has been a trusted broker of practical information to advance locally-grown and sustainable agriculture and energy solutions.”

To learn more about the AgriSolar Clearinghouse visit AGRISOLARCLEARINGHOUSE.ORG.

The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and Ranchin’ Vets have teamed up to offer a new level of support for military veterans interested in sustainable agriculture training opportunities. Ranchin’ Vets will fund a one-time transportation stipend directly to veterans selected to participate in NCAT’s Armed to Farm training program.

Armed to Farm is a sustainable agriculture training program for military veterans. NCAT manages the program with support from a variety of funding sources, including a cooperative agreement with USDA-Rural Development. Since launching in 2013, Armed to Farm has supported more than 800 farmer veterans from 45 states with hands-on and classroom learning opportunities. Farmer veterans learn how to make a business plan and market their products, how to access USDA programs, set business goals, and develop mentorships with seasoned farmers.

Armed to Farm has always been free for veterans and their spouses or farm partners to attend. NCAT covers the cost of lodging, most meals, and local transportation during the training. However, attendees have always been responsible for getting themselves to the training site, which could require long drives across several states or even airfare.

“We want everyone who is accepted into the Armed to Farm program to be able to participate, so we are excited to partner with Ranchin’ Vets to open this opportunity to even more farmer veterans,” said Margo Hale, Armed to Farm Program Director. “Although the training itself is free, the cost of traveling to the training can be substantial and has been a barrier to veterans attending Armed to Farm in the past. We’re very thankful for this opportunity to offer another level of support to the farmer veterans who attend Armed to Farm.”

Ranchin’ Vets, a California based 501 c (3) nonprofit organization founded in 2014, serves veterans on a national level, with a mission to assist in the reintegration of veterans from military to civilian life through a variety of programs offered within the ranching and agricultural industry.

The Ranchin’ Vets Operation Hire A Vet Program connects veterans with opportunities within the agricultural industry. Veterans in the program who need additional support receive a temporary stipend towards transportation, housing and clothing as they pursue agricultural opportunities.

“Through our Operation Hire A Vet Program, we recognized the need for a training program that will equip veterans with the tools they need to be successful in their agricultural endeavors. This partnership with Armed to Farm is an incredible opportunity to work together to assure that all veterans who are interested in pursuing this path will have access to resources that will help them thrive,” said Corey Downs, Ranchin’ Vets Program Director. “Our programs go hand-in-hand, providing veterans with fully funded access to professional agricultural training, as well as assistance in seeking and obtaining agricultural employment. We are so grateful to have the opportunity to work with Armed to Farm.”  

The travel stipends will be available starting with the next Armed to Farm training, scheduled for Dec. 1-3, 2021, in Athens, Georgia. For Armed to Farm participants to receive a transportation stipend, they must successfully register with Ranchin’ Vets.

For more information about Ranchin’ Vets, visit ranchinvets.org. See ARMEDTOFARM.ORG for more about NCAT’s Armed to Farm program.

The National Center for Appropriate Technology will lead a regional partnership to help more than 300 beginning farmers and ranchers across the Northern Great Plains explore the value, viability, and resilience of raising organic field crops.

NCAT will lead this $600,000 three-year Preparing a Resilient Future project alongside the Montana Organic Association, Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society, Center for Rural Affairs, the Intertribal Agriculture Council, Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society, International Organic Inspectors Association, North Dakota State, and University of Wyoming

“The Preparing a Resilient Future project is unique in that it will help beginning farmers and ranchers fully explore the economic and productive viability of organic systems in the Northern Great Plains,” said NCAT Agricultural and Natural Resource Economist and Project Director Jeff Schahczenski. “NCAT has long-recognized that farmers and ranchers learn best from other farmers and ranchers.”

Unlike most programs focused on beginning farmers and ranchers, the new project targets medium to large-scale field crop and livestock operations. This project was selected in a national competition under the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program funded through the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Researchers often assume that beginning organic farmers are smaller-scale operations because of the challenge of finding and acquiring affordable land and high cost of larger-scale machinery. Programs that help beginning farmers tend to focus on organic specialty crops like fruits, vegetables, tree nuts and flowers. Research has shown that only about 25 percent of Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development programs train and educate beginning farmers to focus on commodity field crops such as, wheat, barley, lentils, chickpeas, dry peas and beans and oilseeds as well as beef livestock production.

Why Field Crops?

Interest in growing organic field crops is on the rise in the Northern Great Plains, and there appears to be good reason to think there would be markets for them.

Research shows that organic vegetable and specialty crop growers are meeting the national demand in the U.S. because there’s a net export of their products. At the same time, organically grown field crops are being imported into the U.S. at stable and sometimes increasing rates.

“Organic farming is not prescriptive,” said Jamie Ryan Lockman, Executive Director of the Montana Organic Association and Co-Project Director. “It is a system that requires diverse crops and diverse approaches subject to constant change. Montana is the number one organic wheat- and pulse-producing state in the country; it is uniquely positioned to provide education as well as opportunities to meet, learn, collaborate, mentor, do business, and more.”

Bringing in the Community

NCAT and the project collaborators will host intensive training sessions, one-on-one technical assistance, and on-farm workshops and tours. The training will be conducted in two-day “Organic Academy Road Show” sessions. Importantly, experienced organic farmers and ranchers are some of the lead trainers in this project.  

In addition to the farmers and ranchers taking part, the sessions will include other members of their agricultural communities, including civic leaders, county Extension agents and officials from USDA agencies such as the Farm Service Administration and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

That outreach is vital as support for the beginning farmers and to introduce organic farming and ranching to the agricultural community in their area.

Opportunities for Diversity

Over the past seven years, NCAT has helped nearly 900 military veteran farmers through its Armed to Farm training projects around the country.

In addition, NCAT and MOA have undertaken many training workshops that have included tribal members, who make up about 2 percent of all new beginning farmers in the Northern Great Plains.

That emphasis on diversity will be reflected in the Preparing a Resilient Future project, which will include at least 50 veteran, limited-resource, tribal, and socially disadvantaged participants.

“NCAT is a longtime, trusted resource for providing accessible training to farmers and ranchers,” said NCAT Executive Director Steve Thompson. “Now we have the opportunity to formally partner with several leading organic and sustainable agriculture organizations and tribal nations to deliver high-quality training to beginning farmers, ranchers, and their community support systems across the Northern Great Plains, creating a recipe for success.”

The Preparing a Resilient Future project will serve farmers and ranchers in Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Small-scale farmers, food processors or distributors, or farmers markets financially impacted by Covid-19 can now apply for up to $20,000 to recover costs related to the pandemic. The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is helping food producers access these dollars through the USDA’s Pandemic Response and Safety Grant Program. Applications are now open until Nov. 22, 2021.

If you operate a small farm producing specialty crops whose annual revenue is less than $1 million, run a farmers market, food hub, community supported agriculture (CSA) farm, a small food processing business or food manufacturing operation, you may be eligible for grant funding.

According to the USDA, the pandemic-related costs that are recoverable through this grant program relate to the following areas, and include estimating staff time to implement:

  • Workplace Safety: Implementing workplace safety measures to protect against COVID-19 such as providing personal protective equipment, thermometers, cleaning supplies, sanitizers, hand washing stations, installation and purchase of air filters or new signage.
  • Market Pivots: Implementing market pivots to protect against COVID–19. Though not exactly well-defined market pivot are related to cost of changing how you had to operate your enterprise to make it more COVID-19 safe including the staff time to implement these changes. For example, a farmers’ market may have had to restructure their layout to ensure one-way traffic and improve social distancing.
  • Retrofitting Facilities: Retrofitting facilities for worker and consumer safety to protect against COVID–19 such as installation and purchase of protective barriers, walk up windows, heat lamps/heaters, fans, tents, propane, weights, tables chairs and lighting.
  • Transportation: Providing additional transportation options to maintain social distancing and worker and consumer safety to protect against COVID-19 such as securing additional transportation services for workers or establishing new delivery routed or distribution services. For instance, a food hub might have had to shift to delivering food directly to consumers rather than just having to have common distribution point.
  • Worker Housing: Providing additional worker housing resources or services to maintain social distancing or to allow for quarantining of new or exposed employees.
  • Medical: Providing health services to protect workers against COVID-19 including offering or enabling vaccinations, testing, or healthcare treatment of infected employees, including paid leave.

This is not a competitive grant program; grants will be awarded based on eligibility. Funding is not awarded on a first-come-first-serve basis, and the 45-day application period opened October 6.

Before applying, all applicants must obtain a Data Universal Number System (DUNS) number. This DUNS number will be required to receive this grant. More information on how to obtain a DUNS number, plus full eligibility criteria can be found at the USDA’s website: https://usda-prs.grantsolutions.gov/usda.

You can also ask further questions about this program by emailing usda.ams.prs@grantsolutions.gov or call 301-238-5550. NCAT’s ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture program will provide additional support related to accessing this new grant program. Check our website at ATTRA.NCAT.ORG or sign up for our weekly e-newsletter for updates. 

If you’re a small-scale farmer, food processor or distributor, or farmers market and have been financially impacted by Covid-19, you may be able to access up to $20,000 to recover costs related to the pandemic.

The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is helping food producers access these dollars through the USDA’s Pandemic Response and Safety Grant Program. Applications will open in early October. Producers should get prepared for the application period now.

If you operate a small farm producing specialty crops whose annual revenue is less than $1 million, run a farmers market, food hub, community supported agriculture (CSA) farm, a small food processing business or food manufacturing operation, you may be eligible for grant funding.

“Food producers provide an essential service for our communities, and these small-scale producers have continued to operate during the pandemic to make sure all of us are fed,” NCAT Executive Director Steve Thompson said. “NCAT is here to help food producers, processors and farmers markets access dollars to keep their doors open.” 

According to the USDA, the pandemic-related costs that are recoverable through this grant program relate to the following areas:

  • Workplace Safety: Implementing workplace safety measures to protect against COVID-19 such as providing personal protective equipment, thermometers, cleaning supplies, sanitizers, hand washing stations, installation and purchase of air filters or new signage.
  • Market Pivots: Implementing market pivots to protect against COVID–19. Though not exactly well-defined market pivot are related to cost of changing how you had to operate your enterprise to make it more COVID-19 safe including the staff time to implement these changes. For example, a farmers’ market may have had to restructure their layout to ensure one-way traffic and improve social distancing.
  • Retrofitting Facilities: Retrofitting facilities for worker and consumer safety to protect against COVID–19 such as installation and purchase of protective barriers, walk up windows, heat lamps/heaters, fans, tents, propane, weights, tables chairs and lighting.
  • Transportation: Providing additional transportation options to maintain social distancing and worker and consumer safety to protect against COVID-19 such as securing additional transportation services for workers or establishing new delivery routed or distribution services. For instance, a food hub might have had to shift to delivering food directly to consumers rather than just having to have common distribution point.
  • Worker Housing: Providing additional worker housing resources or services to maintain social distancing or to allow for quarantining of new or exposed employees.
  • Medical: Providing health services to protect workers against COVID-19 including offering or enabling vaccinations, testing, or healthcare treatment of infected employees, including paid leave.

This is not a competitive grant program; grants will be awarded based on eligibility. Funding is not awarded on a first-come-first-serve basis, and the 45-day application period is anticipated to open in early October.  

To be ready for the application, all applicants should obtain a Data Universal Number System (DUNS) number. This DUNS number will be required to receive this grant. More information on how to obtain a DUNS number, plus full eligibility criteria can be found at the USDA’s website: https://usda-prs.grantsolutions.gov/usda.

You can also ask further questions about this program by emailing usda.ams.prs@grantsolutions.gov or call 301-238-5550. NCAT’s ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture program will provide additional support related to accessing this new grant program. Check our website at ATTRA.NCAT.ORG or sign up for our weekly e-newsletter for updates. 

The National Center for Appropriate Technology is reminding farmers and ranchers during Farm Safety and Health Week, September 19-25, 2021, that its ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture service includes trusted and practical resources to stay safe on the job.  

For Tractor Safety & Rural Roadway Safety Day on Monday, September 20, NCAT is releasing a series of 13 Spanish-language tractor safety and maintenance videos. NCAT is releasing a video on chainsaw safety for women to mark Safety & Health for Women in Agriculture Day on Friday, September 24. These resources and a new guide to preparing for disaster join an archive of other equipment-related guides available at ATTRA.NCAT.ORG.

“Farmers, ranchers and farmworkers have stressful and dangerous jobs, but they don’t have to weather those challenges alone,” said NCAT Northeast Regional Director Andy Pressman. “Our trusted and practical resources are available online at no cost, plus, our sustainable agriculture specialists are always available to work one-on-one with any producer who would like to be connected with individualized support.”

Later this fall, NCAT’s ATTRA program will release a series of new publications in partnership with the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network Northeast related to behavioral health awareness, literacy, access and outcomes for farmers, ranchers, and farmworkers.

NCAT’s sustainable agriculture service, ATTRA has been providing trusted, practical, and free information for farmers and ranchers since 1987. Over the last 34 years, the program has developed a vast knowledgebase meant to help beginning farmers get their start, to provide continuing education to longtime producers, and to connect farmers and ranchers with information, experts, and the know-how to run a successful, and safe, enterprise.

As students from around the country fill their backpacks with pens and paper, some rural Mississippi students are sure to toss in a pair of work gloves for the school year. Since 2019, the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and The Piney Woods School have partnered to educate the next generation of sustainable farmers, ranchers, soil scientists and food security advocates. They’re now telling the story of this unique partnership in a new video.

Thanks to a grant from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, NCAT and The Piney Woods School are educating students about gardening, sustainability, and regenerative grazing practices at the school’s 200-acre on-campus farm, sparking interest in agriculture-related career fields. Not only has the site been used to provide hands-on sustainable agriculture training for students, but it’s also hosted workshops for beginning and small farmers across the Gulf States region.

“It has been so rewarding to share with teens from urban and rural backgrounds the idea that farming can not only be a fulfilling career path, but it is also key to strengthening local food systems and economies,” says NCAT Gulf States Regional Director and fourth-generation farmer Rock Woods. “Our unique partnership with The Piney Woods School will have a lasting impact and I can’t wait to see how these students put their knowledge to work.”

The number of farms has been on the decline in Mississippi, and nationwide, while the demand for locally and sustainably produced products has grown. Students learn the fundamentals basic to sustainable farming like the importance of soil health and managed grazing, while they also learn how diverse specialty crops and marketing can make farms more profitable.

From humble beginnings on a fallen log beneath a cedar tree in 1909, The Piney Woods School has grown to resemble a small college encompassing 2,000 acres, including several lakes, a unique rock garden amphitheater, and its demonstration farm. This farm serves as the backdrop for an intensive, hands-on training program that has expanded to teach farmers and future farmers, urban food producers, and traditionally underserved farmers how to produce high-value, nutrient-rich food on small parcels of land. Even as the pandemic has presented a new challenge for schools and communities, students at Piney Woods have been able to safely continue hands-on, outdoor agriculture learning.

Student Ceasar Stewart says he once thought he’d like to be a lawyer, but after his hands-on farm education, he’s more interested in agriculture and health.

“By the time I’m a senior, I would like to see more people at the farm growing more plants and making this place more resilient to humans,” Stewart says in a film produced about the partnership.

“As a career, I definitely want to work with the UN or a nongovernment organization,” says student Isis Bandele-Asante, “I definitely want to help with sustainability, especially in less developed nations and help to rebuild the economy by rebuilding their agriculture industries. So, I want to help them rebuild that and create a better life for the people there.”

Over the course of this partnership, NCAT has provided training to 70 students and more than 200 regional farmers. Over the last year, NCAT’s sustainable agriculture educational resources were accessed more than 3 million times through its trusted digital knowledge base at ATTRA.NCAT.ORG.

 

 

THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR APPROPRIATE TECHNOLOGY has been helping people build resilient communities through local and sustainable solutions that reduce poverty, strengthen self-reliance, and protect natural resources since 1976. Headquartered in Butte, Montana, NCAT has six regional offices in Arkansas, California, New Hampshire, Mississippi, Montana and Texas. Learn more and become a friend of NCAT at NCAT.ORG

THE PINEY WOODS SCHOOL is a co-educational program serving 8th through 12th grades in an experiential learning environment. As the nation’s oldest African American boarding school, we are celebrating 112 years of continuous operations and excellence in education. The cultural significance of the school is recognized by the National Register of Historic Places. The 2,000-acre rural campus is located 20 miles south of Jackson, Mississippi. For more information, please visit: www.pineywoods.org 

By Steve Thompson, NCAT Executive Director

Dave Atkins, a forest landowner in Montana’s Blackfoot Valley, peers through the smoke-filled gloom of another hot and dry August, and he sees hope on the horizon. He’s part of a collaborative project with other small landowners, federal land agencies, conservation and watershed groups that thinks that an important solution can be found in a porous black shred of carbon called biochar.
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Montana joins markets across the country in celebrating National Farmers Market Week August 1-7, 2021. The National Center for Appropriate Technology and the Montana Farmers Market Network encourages everyone to celebrate the “Bounty of the Big Sky” by shopping at local farmers markets this week and every week.

Montana’s market managers voted on the statewide farmers market week slogan Bounty of the Big Sky to celebrate the food and artisanal crafts featured at farmers markets across the state.

Bounty of the Big Sky Logo“National Farmers Market Week is a great time to bring attention to the bounty of locally grown products that can be purchased at farmers markets,” says Tammy Howard, Montana Farmers Market Network coordinator. “You can find a variety of products, including fruits, vegetables, baked goods, homemade jams and jellies, handmade soaps, beef, poultry, eggs, honey, and artisan crafts at farmers markets throughout the year in many communities.”

Amid a global pandemic, farmers markets — like all other small businesses — have innovated to continue operations for the farmers and communities that depend on them. Market managers have been at the forefront of adapting rapid solutions and innovating to protect staff, customers, and community. When conventional food supply chains failed at the start of the pandemic, farmers markets and local food systems clearly displayed the resiliency of short supply chains and interest in local foods spiked nationwide. Now, farmers markets are headed into another year of building resilience in our community and bringing people together.

There are more than 70 farmers markets in Montana according to the Montana Department of Agriculture. Of those, 24 accept SNAP benefits making fresh, locally produced products accessible to more Montanans. These farmers markets also participate in the Double SNAP Dollars Program which matches a customer’s SNAP benefit. The Double SNAP Dollars program has served nearly 6,400 Montanans and has recirculated more than $500,00 to local farmers, ranchers, and farmers markets.

National Farmers Market Week is an annual celebration of farmers markets coordinated by the Farmers Market Coalition, a membership-based nonprofit organization that supports farmers markets nationwide. The Farmers Market Coalition has partnered with NCAT to coordinate a campaign that is centered around the essential role that farmers markets play in Montana’s local food systems and in developing local resilience in communities.

“In the last year farmers market operators have gone to herculean lengths to keep their markets open and to protect their communities,” said Ben Feldman, Farmers Market Coalition Executive Director. “Throughout National Farmers Market Week 2021, we will be highlighting the vital work of farmers market operators across the nation that provide a space for communities to come together around shared values and work together to change our food system.”

To find a farmers market near you visit AERO’s Abundant Montana Directory.

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The Montana Farmers Market Network is a coalition of partners coordinated by NCAT, including farmers market managers, the Community Food and Agriculture Coalition, AERO, and the Montana Department of Agriculture.

THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR APPROPRIATE TECHNOLOGY has been helping people build resilient communities through local and sustainable solutions that reduce poverty, strengthen self-reliance, and protect natural resources since 1976. Headquartered in Butte, Montana, NCAT has six regional offices in Arkansas, California, New Hampshire, Mississippi, Montana and Texas. Learn more and become a friend of NCAT at NCAT.ORG.

By Guy K. Ames, NCAT Horticulture Specialist

I can hardly think of a perennial fruit easier to grow than elderberries. And I can hardly think of a food item with a stronger claim to health benefits. Coupling the ease of growing with this fruit’s new popularity as an effective medicine, this could be an opportune time for growers to consider establishing an elderberry planting for their family, or perhaps, more ambitiously, a commercial venture.

Elderberry is native from Texas to Maine—an indirect indicator of its ease of culture. It seems to thrive in a wide variety of soils and tolerates both summer’s heat and sub-zero winters. I grow elderberries for their fruit and as a nursery plant to sell. I stick unrooted hardwood cuttings into the soil in late February or March. Many of these sticks will grow into branched plants with fruit in one growing season! I can think of no other perennial fruit that can do that.

As witnessed by surging sales of elderberry products, the general public seems to have absorbed this relatively new medical information. Although perhaps they were predisposed to believe this given the elderberry’s long-standing reputation as an herbal medicine. The most recent scientific research published in March 2019 reveals some of the specific ways that elderberries fight against the influenza virus, a type of corona virus. There is absolutely no direct evidence of elderberry’s possible efficacy specifically against the Covid-19 virus. However, one could guess that the world’s current anxiety over Covid-19 will stimulate sales even further.

Choosing Elderberry Cultivars

As I said at the outset, I can think of few fruits easier to grow than the elderberry. In fact, you might be able to harvest what you want from a wild patch and not have to bother growing them at all! They often pop up at the edges of fields and disturbed sites. One Arkansas wine company, I’ve heard, collects the necessary volume of berries for their elderberry wine from flood plains along the Arkansas River. This makes sense because the periodic disturbance of floods would open up stretches of the bank to sun. Elderberries are opportunistic and will take advantage of a sudden change in its environment.

But if you’re going to grow your own and not forage for them, you might as well start with an improved cultivar with some evidence of high yields and high quality. Up until about 20 years ago, the only available cultivars were from the Northeast and Canada; e.g., Adams, Kent, Johns, Nova, and Scotia. More recently Patrick Byers of the University of Missouri—with encouragement from long-time elderberry grower and advocate Terry Durham—collected, tested, and released two cultivars: ‘Bob Gordon’ and ‘Wyldewood.’ ‘Bob Gordon’ was found wild in Missouri and named after the collector. ‘Wyldewood’ was found by Jack Millican in Oklahoma. In the Midwest climate, ‘Wyldewood’ and ‘Bob Gordon’ outperformed the older elderberry cultivars in trials at different research sites in Missouri. So, depending on where you’re growing, you might want to choose different cultivars.

Elderberry Pests

Elderberries do have a few pests. Powdery mildew can compromise photosynthesis. Eriophyid mites can distort and crinkle the foliage. And I learned by experience that the elderberry sawfly larvae can defoliate a patch in a very short time. Birds, of course, can also be problematic by feeding on the berries. But like most crops, especially perennial crops that stay in the same place for years, weeds are probably the biggest threat to yields. Still, there are solutions to all these problems and they are discussed in an excellent, comprehensive University of Missouri bulletin, Growing and Marketing Elderberries in Missouri.

Since this publication is available in its entirety online at the link provided, and I doubt that I can improve on this information, I see little benefit to you or me in belaboring this topic. I will, however, share this short personal postscript: the fragrant aroma of a hedge of blooming elderberries is one of my favorite scents in the whole world. It never fails to remind me of my dear, sweet, perfumed and powdered grandmother Esther King.

Questions About Elderberries?

Contact Guy with your questions about elderberries or other tree fruit! Call 1-800-346-9140 or email askanag@ncat.org.