Missouri trip (1)

Road Trip!

Elderflower harvest is underway, but we took a break for a quick road trip to Columbia, Missouri for the 2024 Comprehensive Elderberry Workshop and Orchard Tour.  

It was our first time attending this event and we spent two days learning from other elderberry growers, as well as plant breeders and researchers who work with elderberry.  Most exciting of all was the ability to talk with other growers and visit another orchard.  

Elderberry growing can be a somewhat isolated exercise. 

There’s …

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5

Elderberry syrup is back in stock!

Ohio Elderberry Syrup is back in stock! The 2023 elderberry harvest is largely behind us and we finally have elderberry syrup available again.  

It was a strange season - harvest started three weeks later than last year and we had a little lull in the middle of the big harvest days.  We're chalking that up to the spring dry spell and weeks of haze stemming from the Canadian wildfires.  Now we're in that hectic time where we are finishing up harvest, prepping the field for next year, making syrup …

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elderflower aisle

Elderflower summer

After a dry spring, and the crazy haze resulting from Canadian wildfires, summer has brought rain, sun and elderflowers. More of our plantings reach maturity this summer, and the flower displays have been beautiful.

We’ve been harvesting some of the flowers for our elderflower syrup, but we’ve left plenty to make berries and of course, be enjoyed by the insects.

I love walking among the flowers and breathing in their warm fragrance. But already the petals of pollinated flowers are dropping away an…

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mountains

Farm Update

Farms are all about place, right? 

We are located in the Appalachian foothills of southern Ohio. We’re lucky to live in a very beautiful area with a lot of natural richness. Check out the Arc of Appalachia to learn more.  They do amazing work and several of their preserves are within a few miles of us.

Our focus is on the American elderberry, a native plant in this region. We have about 450 elderberry plants in the ground right now and make Elderberry syrup and Elderflower syrup from what we grow.…

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elderflowers drying

The Flower of our Labors

This year we’ve been going through the liquor at an astonishing rate.

Really, it’s mostly been me. Beth being a lightweight, and having declared her first taste of gin “nasty,” has not contributed evenly. But to each their strengths. 😂

Honestly, though, I’ve not been drinking much of the alcohol we’ve run through. I mix a drink, take a sip, dump the rest. Then I alter the proportions, mix another drink, sip, dump. It’s not gone down the drain because I’m nervous about what all that alcohol, a …

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8_oz elderberry

Bigger and Better?

In October we did a production run of elderberry syrup in a larger commercial kitchen. This kitchen sported a huge (100 gallons!) kettle that allowed us to produce 4x more than we normally produce in a day. The automatic filler was great too. We typically fill the bottles by hand, a process that requires a lot of concentration around hot liquid. Children aged 3-6 are introduced to the practice of pouring liquids in the Montessori curriculum, and maybe if I’d attended a Montessori preschool I wou…

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spotted wing drosophila on flower

SWD

No, it’s not Single, White Divorcee. It’s Spotted Wing Drosophila (aka Drosophila suzukii), and it’s the enemy of berry lovers everywhere.

SWD is a fruit fly from Asia, first detected in California in 2008.  2008 doesn’t seem that long ago to me, but this little fly is no laggard.

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A field of elderflowers in bloom

Is this Elderberry?

Elderberry has huge white, umbrella-like flowers but so do poison hemlock, Queen Anne’s lace, or pokeweed, all of which bloom at the same time. That can cause some (understandable!) hesitation if you are trying to harvest elderflowers for culinary or medicinal use. So here’s how to distinguish elderberry from these lookalikes.

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Elderflower Eruption

The elderberry bushes are now flowering outrageously. What a month ago resembled small florets of broccoli have developed into 6” wide umbels of creamy white bloom. These blooms will roll out in waves over the next month or so, transforming our humble field of bushes into an ever changing floral ocean. 

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