What makes elderberry so special to me?
Fifteen years ago I was foraging in the Cascade mountains when I came upon a wild orchard. “Wild” because it was far out there and “orchard” because it was a high density, and beautifully abundant elderberry region that a human may (or may not!) have planted in the past. Hundreds of blue elderberry pouring with perfectly ripe indigo fruit clusters covered in a waxy periwinkle coating. At the time I had just finished training in sustainable and respectful wildcrafting, and completed an apprenticeship with a clinical naturopathic doctor. It was a unique opportunity to be so touched by the abundance and beauty of this wild plant.
I respectfully harvested as much as I could.
Since then I’ve been in love, and have promoted the use of these native elderberries because of their importance as key pollinator plants, their efficacy in supporting our immune systems, the ease we can grow them on the west coast without irrigation, and the bountiful crop yields. They’re a perfect crop.
Whether we’re bringing fresh foraged wild elderberry to bottling, or using farm fresh organic elderberry, we’re using the best old school techniques for cold pressing, hand filling, and bottling in glass. We emphasize transparent sourcing, eco-friendly packaging, and a general waste reduction mindset while using the least amount of fossil fuels. As we grow, we’re keeping the quality and integrity in our sourcing and production methods.
Elderberry contains molecules called agglutinins which have been shown to decrease influenza virus' ability to enter cells and replicate. You can check out some of the available studies here and here.
When we are in love, whether with a human, a task, a plant, or fill in the blank -- our mind is clear of everything but love and meaning. There is a strong affinity to be around our object of affection. We have moments where our minds shift into a different state. Moments when we witness something beautiful like a sunset, morning cup of tea, a riverside campsite cup of coffee. Or for me, harvesting, and processing elderberry into extracts, syrups, and shrubs. My mind is settled, I’m in the now, and I am full of love.
I am trained as a Naturopathic Physician and we believe in the healing power of nature. Growing more native plants is how I believe we can cultivate abundance in regenerative and organically productive landscapes. Not only do farmers save money on inputs like pesticides, but farmers who plant elderberry in hedgerows and borders attract beneficial insects and increase crop yields. They use less water after the crops are established and get high yields of elderberry too. Birds, pollinators, deer, and many other creatures need the food and shelter that elderberries provide.
When I started selling my extracts at farmers markets, I immediately took the money and bought native blue elderberry from the conservation district bare root plant sale and took them to my friend’s family farm. I got permission to plant an orchard for this wild plant and spent weeks using hand tools and small engine powered machines, like weed whackers and created an orchard.
Every year since, I direct plant native elderberries, help empower individuals and communities to do the same while teaching classes on the importance of biodiversity as a foundation of healthy ecosystems. Become a land steward today and plant more elderberry!