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Reports & Grants

Papers & Presentations of Interest

2020-The Little Berry that Could, Minnesota Organic Conference, St. Cloud, MN Download this presentation (pdf).  This conference is sponsored by the Minnesota Dept. Agriculture every January. This presentation outlines the 2020 opportunities and challenges for our rapidly growing number of native elderberry farmers and the grower coop that serves them. 

2019-November Green Lands Blue Waters Conference, Minneapolis, MN. Elderberry’s Place in Your Forever Green Farm PlanA profitable way to help grow our lands more green 
while keeping our waters more blue. Christopher J. Patton, MA, MBA

2019-June Comprehensive Elderberry Workshop, Jefferson City, MO [Presentation links not underlined will be posted when available.]

  • Elderberry Productivity, Patrick Byers, Regional Horticultural Specialist-SW Region, Greene County Extension Office, University of Missouri Extension, Springfield, MO 
  • European Elderberry Tour Report, Patrick Byers & Andrew Thomas, Research Assistant Professor, Horticulture/Agroforestry at the University of Missouri’s Southwest Research Center, Mt. Vernon, MO.
  • Impact of Partial Flower Harvest on Elderberry Fruit Crop, Sam Sergeant, MS student, Agroforestry, University of Missouri.
  • Recent Elderberry Virus Issue Update, David Johnson, Missouri Department of Agriculture.
  • Why Elderberries, Why Now, Katie Reneker, Carmel Berry Company.  MEC member’s story of how and why she came to grow elderberries and then develop/make/market her own local-regional elder berry and flower products.
  • Growing Elderberry in the Upper Midwest, Christopher J. Patton MA, MBA An overview of the challenges facing elderberry growers in the Upper Midwest for both small farm  operations to large-scale commercial production of elder ingredients. Includes examples of native cultivars, expectations, challenges and some different farm strategies.
  • MEC: A Coop Answer to Current & Historical Socio-Economic and Environmental Challenges, Christopher J. Patton MA, MBA A narrated presentation on why an agricultural cooperative is the best business structure for elderberry growers. It provides individual freedom and options for cooperation so as to prosper and partially address the economic difficulties faced by rural communities, labor compensation disparities, and the global deterioration of the environment within the historical context of increasing urbanization, technology and social change over the course of western civilization from earliest times. 
    Print a pdf of the presentation slide deck only.

Chris Patton’s Hour Nutshell (audiovisual) Presentation for Savannah Institute: 
Transitioning Elderberry from Hobby to Commercial Crop (4/2019)
Audiovisual YouTube link through Savannah Institute
Download the above presentation deck pdf.

Terry Durham’s Hour Nutshell (audio) Presentation for Savannah Institute: 
Growing Elderberry for Fund & Profit (2019)

2018-June Comprehensive Elderberry Workshop, Jefferson City, MO 
and the 2018-January Minnesota Organic Conference:
Elderberry: Transitioning from Hobby to Commercial Crop 
Growing & Selling Certified Organic Elderberry and Elderflower Crops & Ingredients
Christopher J. Patton MA, MBA

This presentation provides a comprehensive overview of the challenges facing elderberry growers in moving from a hobby farm scale of operations to large-scale commercial production of elderberry and elderflower ingredients to support 22,500 acres. Like several other areas of agricultural production, a grower cooperative provides a viable means to achieve that goal more profitably. 

2018-June Comprehensive Elderberry Workshop, Jefferson City, MO
AURI Project w/ USDA Rural Development Grant, Midwest Elderberry Cooperative
Christopher J. Patton, President,  June 2018
This presentation provides a comprehensive overview of drying and marketing elderflowers and elderberries for either small or large-scale commercial production within MEC. 

2017 Iowa Practical Farmers Alternative Berry Short Course and 2017 MO Comprehensive Elderberry Workshop
How to Sell a Growing Elderberry Harvest
, Christopher J. Patton MA, MBA
I made the case that larger growers producing more harvest than can be sold by direct sales to consumers or processors, must  include value added ingredients/products. They are essential to a grower's operational cash flow and profits. The cooperative is one way for a grower, who does not want to do on-farm processing, to proportionately spread that risk/participate in the profits derived from a basket of ingredients sold at different margins as set by the larger markets. 

2017 River Hills Harvest Elderberry Workshop
Elderberry Possibilities, Patrick Byers

Discriminant Analyses of the Polyphenol Content of American
Elderberry Juice from Multiple Environments Provide Genotype
, presented by Andrew Thomas

2016 River Hills Harvest Elderberry Workshop
The Missouri Elderberry Development Project-Patrick Byers 
Minnesota Elderberry Cooperative - A Model for Midwest Elderberry Growers-Chris Patton

2016 Practical Farmers of Iowa Annual Conference
SARE Youtube video of PFI presentation: 

Elder Plant Pictures; 2013-2016 SARE Farmer’s Forum

2015 Missouri Elderberry Workshop presentation by Terry Durham

MEC Feasibility Study Reflections Narrated Presentation: 
Assessing Market Opportunities and Commercial Applications
Christopher J. Patton, MA, MBA  (about 35 minutes)
MEC Feasibility Study Reflections Presentation as a pdf-no narration.

Elderberry: Great Taste with Potential Health Benefits, Christopher J. Patton, MA, MBA

Elderberry as a Third Crop Presentation as a pdf, Christopher J. Patton, MA, MBA

Growing and Marketing Elderberries in Missouri, University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry.

Elderberry: Botany, Horticulture & Potential as a Food and Medicinal Crop, by Denis Charlebois et al

Elderberry Possibilities, Patrick Byers Presentation at Minnesota Fruit & Vegetable Growers Conference, on January 16, 2014 in St. Cloud, MN

Overview of Elderberry Nutrition (growing), Patrick Byers Presentation at Missouri Elderberry Comprehensive Workshop, June 2014.

Building a Farmer-Based Industry from the Ground Up, SARE 2013 /2014 REPORT FROM THE FIELD, page 7. Click on the unlined link for a brief recounting of the development of elderberry as a high value specialty crop in Missouri with comments by Terry Durham and University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry researcher Michael Gold. 

River Hills Harvest YouTube videos on elderberry harvesting. 

University of Minnesota paper, Wash Water SanitizersNote that the instructions recommend to not wash berries. We wash / sanitize destined elderberries just prior to freezing. Do not wash or sanitize berries unless yo plan to freeze or cool to use them quickly.

Meeting Documents

Feb. 22, 2019 Summary of the Annual Members Meeting at MOSES  

Nov. 12, 2016 Minutes of the Annual Members Meeting

Spring 2015 Members Meeting & Report

Professionally Developed Feasibility Studies

Midwest Elderberry Cooperative commissioned several professional feasibility studies and a business plan from Cooperative Development Services (CDS) with the help from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Value Added Grant Program and the North Central Regional SARE Farmer Rancher Grant Program. Since 1985, CDS has helped existing cooperatives retain their vitality and plan for future growth opportunities. CDS also contracts with new cooperatives and organizations operating in a cooperative manner to launch new business ventures and plan for long-term viability. Learn more about CDS at their web site.

While full access to most of these studies is restricted to members and/or other developing grower cooperatives at the discretion of MEC’s Board of Directors, we provide printable summaries here for all to read. This open publication partially fulfills our obligation to share the results with the public and interested potential growers. We encourage anyone interested in becoming a member of MEC to read them and attend one of our workshops. 

Feasibility Study/Grant Report Links
Midwest (Minnesota) Elderberry Cooperative 

Midwest Elderberry Cooperative Feasibility Study Assessing Market Opportunities and Commercial Applications for Certified Organic Operations - Summary Report (truncated/edited pdf for public download)

2014 CDS_Business_Plan-Summary.pdf

SARE Grant 2013 Report on Developing Commercial Elderberry Production in Minnesota. Click on the link,  Search Projects, enter  FNC13-925 into the search string field.

Final Report: Developing Commercial Elderberry Production in Minnesota
SARE FNC13-925 for the years 2013-2014 in pdf.

2013 Minnesota Elderberry Cooperative Feasibility Study Executive Summary.

2009 Missouri Feasibility Study for River Hills Harvest Elderberry Producers Summary.

Grants Received

On October 1, 2015 MEC was awarded a Value-Added Producer Grant of $30,000 from the USDA. MEC has retained Cooperative Development Services to conduct a feasibility and market study for the Midwest production of Certified Organic Dried Elderberry and Elderflower ingredients for the national and global marketplace. The undertaking of this feasibility study has been undertaken in part with the appreciated support of Frontier Coop in North Liberty, IA.

On January 9, 2015 MEC was awarded a $3,418.75 matching grant from the MN Department of Agriculture Value-Added Grant program toward’s towards the purchase ($13,675) and installation of mobile elderberry processing equipment consisting of one of Terry’s Destemmers, associated tools/equipment and a stainless washing-sanitation system that will meet state and federal requirements to safely process elderberries for resale in the wholesale market – 25 lb. frozen berries in 4 gallon, food grade buckets. 

In December 2013 MEC was awarded an additional $11,000 matching grant from the MN Department of Agriculture Value-Added Grant program to help it develop a business plan building on the successful feasibility study. The commercial aspects of the business plan were successfully completed in October, 2014 with positive prospects. 

In March 2013 MEC received a $14,980 SARE grant for “Developing Commercial Elderberry Production in Minnesota.” 

In early February 2013, Minnesota Elderberry Cooperative received a $5000 matching grant from the MN Department of Agriculture Value-Added Grant program.  The feasibility for converting Minnesota Grown elderberries into juice, wine and other value-added products was successfully completed with a positive outcome by CDS in October 2013.

Click here to read about MEC's and the other SARE grants.

© Midwest Elderberry Cooperative 2018