Today there seems to be a resurging interest in local grains and heirloom grain varieties. When we think of wheat today, most envision large combines on the Great Plains or Pacific Northwest. People are waking up to the idea that grain crops used to be grown on small farms throughout the United States, outside of today’s commodity wheat production regions.
Elderberry Workshop Recap 2016
A capacity crowd filled the Kerr Center’s June 11 elderberry workshop at 360 Farms.
Two of Oklahoma’s most successful elderberry entrepreneurs, Brent and Valerie Madding, hosted the workshop at their operation in southeastern Muskogee County.
The Maddings’ presentation at last year’s elderberry workshop at the Kerr Center was a crowd-pleaser – and generated enough questions about their place that this year they offered to bring the crowd to their own place.
The workshop introduced potential new growers to elderberries, and shared the details of 360 Farms’ operations. Topics included variety selection, propagation, establishment, production, harvest, marketing, and the many uses for this perennial plant.
Kerr Center President David Redhage also made a presentation, and described the Kerr Center’s own experience with elderberries.
Finding a new niche crop was only the beginning of 360 OK Farms’ innovations. “The berries sell for $2 a pound,” says Brent Madding. “The flowers go for $10 an ounce.”
With that in mind, 360 Farms makes and markets a variety of value-added elderberry products, including teas, soaps, and skin care products. They grow their own ingredients for this product range, using no pesticides.
The Maddings specialize in the research and cultivation of Oklahoma native varietals of elderberry, maintaining an eight-acre elderberry orchard with 7,000 plants. They market retail and wholesale, selling both cuttings and rooted stock of several different varieties.
360 Farms needed a reliable means of both propagating elderberry plants and growing herbs and vegetables year-round in Oklahoma’s unpredictable weather. Their solution shows yet another example of the Maddings’ outside-the-box thinking: an aquaponic greenhouse that gets its fertility from fish rather than commercial fertilizers.
Workshop Handouts and Materials:
Growing and Marketing Elderberries in Missouri (University of Missouri Cooperative Extension Service)
Elderberry (University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service)