University of Vermont

Cultivating Healthy Communities

Research Project:

Development of Commercial Elderberry Production in Vermont

Ripe Elderberries

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.

This project, funded by Vermont's Working Lands Enterprise Initiative, will provide prospective elderberry growers with critical information to help them make informed decisions about whether commercial elderberry production is right for them. A particular challenge with elderberry is harvesting and processing the fruit in a cost-effective manner.

Project outcomes will include:

  1. an enterprise feasibility study and production guide;
  2. three on-farm workshops;
  3. a farmer-to-farmer listserv for interested growers to exchange information and resources;
  4. a segment on "Across the Fence."

Growing Elderberries: A Production Manual and Enterprise Viability Guide for Vermont and the Northeast .pdf download)

Elderberries Guide Link


Enterprise Decision Tool

Spreadsheet Preview

We have created an Elderberry Financial Decision Support Tool (which you can download by clicking this link). We are seeking to help growers decide if an Elderberry Enterprise makes sense for them.

The UVM Elderberry Enterprise Financial Decision Tool is a spreadsheet in Excel (© Microsoft Corporation) designed to assist with evaluating the financial implications of establishment and management of elderberry. This model allows you to input your number of bushes planted, yield per bush, and income and expenses related to establishment, management, harvesting and marketing to determine your potential economic return for your given scenario.

The Elderberry Enterprise Financial Analysis tab has been formatted to provide a printable cash flow projection including a capital cost (establishment) budget that can be used as part of your business plan.

Horticultural Information and Production Guides

Conference and Workshop Proceedings

2016 NOFA-VT Winter Conference Intensive Handouts
2016 Elderberry Cultivation Workshop
2016 Elderberry Processing for Use All Year Long

Business Planning Assistance

Market Development

Developing and Marketing a Value-Added Product


Grower Cooperatives and Processor Information

Videos about Elderberry

Project Timeline

  • Farmer-to-Farmer Listserv: Fall, 2015
  • On-Farm Workshops: 2016
  • Feasibility Study and Production Guide: Fall, 2016
  • Across the Fence television segment: Fall, 2016

Information from the project will be posted on this webpage as it becomes available.

Principal Investigator and Project Contact

Ginger Nickerson, Ph.D.
Produce Safety Program Coordinator
UVM Extension Center for Sustainable Agriculture
University of Vermont
Email Ginger

Research Team

Joshua Faulkner
Extension Technical Advisor
Farming and Climate Change Coordinator
UVM Extension Center for Sustainable Agriculture
Email Joshua

David Fried
Producer/Processor Technical Advisor
Elmore Roots Nursery

Todd Hardie
Producer/Processor Technical Advisor
Thornhill Farm

The Farm Between
Producer/Processor Technical Advisor

Guido Mase
Processor Technical Advisor
Urban Moonshine

Ginger Nickerson
Principal Investigator & Project Coordinator
Produce Safety and GAPs Program Coordinator
UVM Extension Center for Sustainable Agriculture
Email Ginger

Mary Sisock
Extension Technical Advisor
UVM Extension Forester
Email Mary

Ben Waterman
Extension and Producer Technical Advisor
Beginning Farmer, Land Access, and New Farms for New Americans Program Coordinator
UVM Extension Center for Sustainable Agriculture
Email Ben

Kate Westdijk
Community Herbalist and UVM Research Specialist

Rosalie Wilson
Researcher for Enterprise and Production Guide
Rose Wilson Business Development Services


Last modified October 24 2016 04:42 PM