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More than sustainable, elderberry enhances the environment when planted as part of  a horticultural installation designed to accomplish a set of soil, water, pollinator and wildlife management objectives.  - Chris Patton, President, MEC

Project 22-50: A Path for MEC’s Future (Click to go to the page.)

Basic Planting Instructions - Terry Durham, River Hills Harvest

Elderberry Plants Available for Purchase

Please read  the related links above. To order northern grown Midwest cuttings and/or greenhouse native elderberry plants (starts), please contact Natasha Simeon at or go to her Regeneration Acres website. Natasha worked closely with Paul Otten for several years in propagating elderberry and currants. She continues this service in association with MEC. For general questions, contact Chris Patton -

Commercial elderberry propagation is most commonly done with dormant cuttings and nursery prepared plugs or plants:

  1. Dormant Cuttings are the form of plants typically used by nurseries for field or greenhouse propagation purposes. Cuttings are multiple node sections of juvenile (current seasons) canes, taken from mother plants and either “stuck” immediately into properly prepared beds in late fall, or stored at near freezing temperatures with proper humidity and stuck in early spring. This is the most economical form we offer, but requires more knowledge and special care to get the desired results. 
  2. Actively growing MaxiPlugs can be planted outdoors any time from early spring after danger of frost is past until the end of summer and even very early fall - provided the plants are available. A dramatic presentation of the power of these plants, their capacity to grow and produce an early crop (in 14 months), and largely out-compete weeds can be seen at Natura Farms / Berry Communications with their July 2013 elderberry planting.

    Obviously the earlier in the season one can plant these, the longer growing period they will have and the greater their development will be. But growers and farmers are often very, very busy in the spring, and sometime the weather simply does not cooperate to prepare the fields and transplant crops, as happened in the 2014 and 2013 springs: continuous rains, fields too wet to work. MaxiPlug plants enable farmers to transplant them at their convenience, rather than having to get them into the ground in very early spring, as is required with dormant cuttings and bare root plants. 

Terry Durham at River Hills Harvest sells MO grown cuttings. Go to

The Development of Elderberry Cultivation Best Practices

Chris-Leah Fieldwork-Fun72

MEC organizes or co-hosts events to help potential growers evaluate elderberry as a hobby or business crop. In many cases the public is welcome to participate and/or volunteer time to learn more about elderberry. We have a great deal to learn, and the work has its pleasant ah-ha moments, too. Check out our events page for what’s scheduled and when.

Terry Durham began efforts to cultivate elderberry as a commercial crop from before 2000. He has worked closely with various departments of the University of Missouri, which has dedicated research dollars and staff time for many years. Most of what is currently documented about growing elderberry under commercially cultivated conditions is a result of their long-term partnership, which in the June 2013 resulted in  The First International Symposium on Elderberry. Terry annually sponsors an annual Comprehensive Elderberry Workshop jointly with the University of MO Extension. He also travels to other places to share his experience on growing and processing elderberry fruits. You check out his program schedule at the River Hills Harvest web site.

We have many links to various relevant presentations, including many from past Comprehensive Elderberry Workshops on the Reports & Grants page under About.

Terry Durham’s Agroforestry farm tour for Savannah Institute: Take this 5 minute tour for great insight about growing elderberry.

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

Short Video of MEC's 2014 Harvest & Processing Workshop Growing Currants, Gooseberries & Elderberries in Wisconsin

Transitioning to Certified Organic Production 
Click on the above link to download a USDA/SARE planner pdf.

Perennial Fruit: 
new, unusual and unique crops for northern climates

Lead author:  Thaddeus McCamant, Specialty Crops Instructor, Central Lakes College, Staples, MN. This publication was a project of the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Minnesota.  Click here to go directly to the section on elderberries.

Growing Elderberries: A Production Manual and Enterprise Viability Guide for Vermont and the Northeast (University of Vermont Center for Sustainable Agriculture)

With its white flowers in the late spring, dark berries in summer, tolerance for a variety of conditions, and anti-oxidant and anti-viral properties, elderberry is enjoying a surge of interest. Because elderberry is relatively easy to cultivate, and can tolerate short-term flooding and the variable precipitation predicted with climate change, it may represent a good crop for farmers and landowners for diversifying income. However, as a perennial crop that takes at least three years to get established, interested growers need good information to evaluate the prospective return on investment for their enterprise. 

Home Guide Articles on Elderberry Cultivation

This set of articles found on the main page and in the margins contain good amounts of general information are directed more towards techniques on growing elderberry around one’s home. However, the main picture on the linked page is of a red elderberry, that is NOT good for human consumption. Most of the guidance is reliable - such as soil preference, site location, and pruning elderberry for a home garden. Other comments are questionable: cuttings are quite easy to grow, contrary to what was stated in one article, for example. 

Growing Elderberry for Food & Meds Published on May 15, 2013
Amazingly adaptable and hardy, elder grows almost anywhere. Canadian herbalist Conrad Richter discusses the varieties of elder, and how to grow them and which can be used for drinks, foods and medicines. The presentation was part of Richters’ HerbDay celebration in honor of elder, the 2013 Herb of the Year. [Good video for home hobbyists or for some exploring the commercial potential of elderberry. -cjp]

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.

University of Missouri Presentation Video Presented 2012 / Published on Feb 20, 2013
The Center for Agroforestry at the University of Missouri has identified elderberry as an important component in a variety of agroforestry practices. In this video Michael Gold, Pat Byers, Andrew Thomas, Ina Cernusca, and Larry Godsey present, "Elderberry: A Rapidly Growing Specialty Crop in the U.S. Midwest,” at the 2012 Farmers Forum. [Reviews the start of commercial elderberry production in the US.  -cjp]

University of Missouri in Columbia Elderberry Decision Tool
The linked Excel spreadsheet incorporates the information learned by the university’s agricultural research and extension service experience from growing elderberry commercially in Missouri. Download the Elderberry Financial Decision Tool.

Visit Paul Otten's Berry Communications webpages:

Ag Resource, Inc. / David Birky, 218-847-9351, 800-288-6650
The Birkys have worked with a number of MEC members to help them get started in elderberry production, irrigation and other agricultural equipment.

From River Hills Harvest / Terry Durham - March 2015:

Soil Preparation-RHH

© Midwest Elderberry Cooperative 2018