Aronia Berry: A Sustainable Organic Crop

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2005: $5,990.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2007
Region: North Central
State: Iowa
Project Coordinator:
Vaughn Pittz
Sawmill Hollow Farm

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: general small fruits


  • Crop Production: no-till, organic fertilizers
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, mentoring, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, feasibility study, value added
  • Natural Resources/Environment: habitat enhancement, soil stabilization, wildlife
  • Pest Management: mulches - killed, physical control
  • Production Systems: general crop production
  • Soil Management: organic matter, soil analysis, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, public participation, employment opportunities

    Proposal summary:

    1) What is the objective of this project? The objective of our project is to research the feasibility of the Aronia Berry as a profitable alternative crop which can be produced in the North Central Region by the small family farm. Commonly known as the Chokeberry, the Aronia Berry is a lesser-known berry variety, native to North America that is becoming increasingly popular for its coloring and antioxidant properties. This deciduous bush tolerates mixed climates and adapts well to all seasons, is easy to grow and has no natural enemies which make the Aronia Berry a sustainable crop to grow organically in our region. The problem addressed is developing the opportunity for small family farms to utilize the Aronia Berry as a sustainable organic alternative crop. 2) Describe in detail how you would use this grant to address the problem. We currently have small test plots of Aronia Berry plants growing at Sawmill Hollow Organic Farms in Harrison County, Iowa. These plants range from ten years to one year old and produce 20 to 25 pounds per bush after the fourth year. Based on preliminary results, in our experience, we would like to use the grant money to expand planting so we have enough product to continue new product development/test marketing of the Aronia Berry products. We will have the support of Dr. Eldon Everhart, Commercial Horticulture Field Specialist, housed in the Shelby County I.S.U. Extension Office. He will help us meet our goal of educating other farmers on growing Aronia Berries through field days, educational seminars, news releases, magazine articles, radio programs, and other media. Some monies will be used for additional product development and on-going marketing programs. Products intended to be focused on include, but are not limited to, Aronia Berry jams and jellies, sauces, juice, wine, health supplements, concentrated elixirs, dried or granulated power drinks, a healthy gummy bear, and an organic purple cloth dye. To date, we have ready to test market an Aronia Berry jelly, Aronia Berry sauce and an Aronia Berry wine. 3) How will you know if you have achieved what you wanted to do with this grant? How do you propose to evaluate the economic, environmental, and social impacts of your project? We will meet our goal when we complete the following: 1. Educating the family farm growers creating AWARENESS and farm values of the Aronia Berry as a sustainable and productive income producing crop. 2. Develop and train other small farm growers concerning organic farming as a healthy alternative. 3. Establish a network of small family farm growers through seminars, field days, newsletters and shared information and growing techniques. 4. When we increase Aronia Berry production to meet the manufacturing demands for the products that have already met success with the manufacturers. 4) Why is the problem you are addressing in your project important to your farm and to other farmer/ranchers in your area and the North Central Region? The development of small farm Aronia Berry growers will help solve a supply/demand problem for this organically-grown product. It will serve as an economic boost to small farmers and this project will establish more organic growers and organic awareness, it will improve the quality of life through positive farm practices as well as provide an economic incentive for the small family farm to improve the quality of life through growing an economical sustainable crop. 5) How will you share information from your project with other farmer/ranchers? (Each project must include an outreach component.) We will share information from the Aronia Berry project through County Extension offices, other agricultural organizations and actively recruiting other small farmers to join the Aronia Berry group. 6) Describe your farm or ranch operation if you are submitting an individual proposal. If you are submitting a group proposal, describe your operation and provide names, addresses and a brief description of the other farmer/rancher members of the group. Sawmill Hollow Organic Farms is located 4 miles north of Missouri Valley, Iowa in Harrison County. We currently have 4 acres of established Aronia Berry plants with an additional 20-25 acres which can be used in the production of the Aronia Berry crop. Since the year 2000, the farm has received organic certification status. 7) List the names, addresses, and phone numbers of any cooperators. Include how they will participate or what they will contribute. Harlan Hamernik (plants) Bluebird Nursery 519 Bryan Street Clarkson, NE 68629 La Buena Vida Vineyards (development of Aronia Wine) Dr. Bobby Smith, Owner 416 E College Street Grapevine, TX 76051 Mike DeGrandchamp Farms (plants) 15575 77th Street South Haven, MI 49090 Artemis International, Inc. (manufacturer of specialty fruit concentrates) Jan Mills, Director of Product Development 9318 Airport Drive Fort Wayne, IN 46809 Dr. Eldon Everhart (education & training) Commercial Horticulture Field Specialist 906 Sixth Street Harlan, IA 51537-1304

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.