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Oklahoma’s Best-Kept Secrets: Elderberry Workshop June 11

Oklahoma’s Best-Kept Secrets: Elderberry Workshop June 11

Elderberry is much in the news these days, with good reason. Its flowers and berries yield a wide range of products, with reputed health benefits from burn treatment to flu prevention.

However, many may not realize that this promising new crop grows native in Oklahoma. One of the most popular commercial selections, “Wyldewood,” was developed from a plant found growing wild near Eufaula.

Likewise, one of the nation’s largest commercial elderberry operations is also an Oklahoma original: Brent and Valerie Madding’s 360 Farms, in southeastern Muskogee County.

The Maddings will welcome visitors to their farm on June 11 from 10 to 2, for a workshop to introduce potential new growers to the crop and share the details of their operation. The Kerr Center is pleased to host this timely and fascinating workshop, addressing a native plant with great potential for family farming in the region.

360 Farms boasts a 7,000-plant elderberry orchard on eight acres. The Maddings specialize in the research and cultivation of Oklahoma native varietals of elderberry. They market retail and wholesale, selling both cuttings and rooted stock of several different varieties.

Finding a new niche crop was only the beginning of 360 Farms’ innovations. “The berries sell for $2 a pound,” says Brent Manning. “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.

360 Farms needed a reliable means of both propagating elderberry plants and growing herbs and vegetables year-round in Oklahoma’s unpredictable climate. 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.

The workshop will cover variety selection, propagation, establishment, production, harvest, marketing, and the many uses for this perennial plant. Along with the Maddings, Kerr Center President David Redhage will also speak.

Registration is due by June 3, but early registration is encouraged to be sure of a place. Registration costs $40 ($20 for an additional family member), and includes lunch and snacks.

For more information or to register, visit the events calendar at www.kerrcenter.com, call 918.647.9123, or send an email to mailbox@kerrcenter.com.

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Elderberries ready for harvest. (Click for high-resolution image.)

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