American Elderberry: A Native Perennial Crop for the Midwest

Elderberries have been used by humans for centuries as both food and medicine. Demand for elderberry products in the US continues to exceed supply as consumers seek out elderberry products as a source of immune system support. The resources on this page are intended to introduce both prospective elderberry growers and consumers to this promising native perennial agroforestry crop.

Elderberries are a hardy perennial crop that can provide strong economic returns and be a valuable part of a small farm operation. Given their documented medicinal properties and the fact that the majority of elderberry products are manufactured from imported elderberries, considerable demand exists in the marketplace. Once established, elderberries can produce a harvestable crop for many years. Elderberries provide great habitat for pollinators and other wildlife. As a perennial crop, they help reduce erosion and water runoff. Get started by planting a few elderberries now to see if they are a good fit for you and your farm goals! 

Watch our overview of key aspects of the American Elderberry and the Midwest elderberry industry in this video. We look at some of the basics of preparation, planting, management and harvest, as well as talk about marketing options.

Download the Free Guides

Elderberry Grower’s Guide

  • Explore how elderberry production can fit in with your farm goals and management.
  • Understand the main challenges of elderberry production and what to expect from buyers.
  • Learn lessons from the mistakes of experienced elderberry growers.
  • Available in English, Spanish and Hmong.

Consumer Fact Sheet

  • Learn about the medicinal properties of elderberries.
  • Printable fact sheet to distribute at your restaurant, Farmer’s Market or U-Pick business.

Beverage makers, health and wellness product producers, bakers, chefs and other makers in the market for a local, unique and healthy product, pay attention to this important crop. You can use every part of the American Elderberry plant. The juice, flowers, leaves, roots and stems can all be used for some sort of commercial or medicinal purpose. Growers across the Midwest are taking advantage of the opportunities elderberries offer and are ready to supply the local markets with unique and healthy elderberry products.

Hear from the Experts

a hazelnut bush in summer

Listen to the Podcast

Learn everything you ever wanted to know about elderberries in this episode of the Savanna Institute Audio Archive. Featuring elderberry experts Terry Durham of River Hills Harvest and Chris Patton of the Midwest Elderberry Cooperative, this free podcast episode takes you through the benefits of elderberries and how to grow, harvest, process, and market them in the Midwest.

Watch the Videos

a hazelnut bush in summer

So Why Grow Elderberries?

 

Watch our overview of key aspects of the American Elderberry and the Midwest elderberry industry in this video. We look at some of the basics of preparation, planting, management and harvest, as well as talk about marketing options.

a hazelnut bush in summer

American Elderberries in the Market

Growers across the Midwest are taking advantage of the opportunities elderberries offer and are ready to supply the local markets with unique and healthy elderberry products. Watch this video about American Elderberries in the market to find out more.

a hazelnut bush in summer

River Hills Harvest

This video from our Pioneer Agroforestry Farm Tour Series features elderberry producer Terry Durham of River Hills Harvest in central Missouri.

a hazelnut bush in summer

Growing Elderberries at Lily Springs Farm

The tradition of growing elderberries for food and medicine continues at Lily Springs. We interviewed farm assistant Elle Sullivan and Lindsay Rebhan of Ecological Design to find out what they are working towards with this amazing crop.

a hazelnut bush in summer

Learn how to grow American Elderberries from Terry Durham

Terry has been growing, teaching and sharing the joy of elderberries for over two decades. Through his River Hills Harvest brand, Terry aggregates elderberries from growers across the Midwest. He shares the secrets to growing, harvesting, processing & marketing American Elderberries in his mentoring courses.