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Incorporating Elderberries in a Hedgerow Can Be Profitable

Sonja Brodt, deputy director of the University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program, is leading a collaborative effort with California farmers and UC researchers to develop native western elderberry as a hedgerow cash crop. Planting hedgerows with edible and medicinal species such as elderberry can help growers generate additional revenue while fostering beneficial insects and improving soil health. California’s native blue elderberry subspecies is more heat- and drought-tolerant than the more commercialized North American and European subspecies of elderberry. “Elderberries have this great potential as a ‘win-win’ crop. Farmers harvesting and selling elderberries from their hedgerows can receive a direct income from a farm practice that benefits the local ecosystem,” says Brodt. A field trial found that elderberry yields from a 1,000-foot, multispecies hedgerow could provide $2,700 to $4,800 in revenue, after harvest and de-stemming costs, in only the second year after hedgerow planting.