Expanding Markets for Lesser Known Perennial Crops Through the Craft Beverage Industry

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2019: $27,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2021
Grant Recipient: Brix Cider LLC
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Matthew Raboin
Brix Cider LLC

Information Products


  • Fruits: apples, berries (brambles), berries (other), persimmon, plums, Seaberry, aronia, currants, elderberry, cornelian cherry, blackcaps, wild black cherry
  • Additional Plants: herbs, native plants


  • Crop Production: cropping systems, varieties and cultivars, suitability of uncommon crops
  • Education and Training: focus group, networking, participatory research, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: market study, value added

    Proposal summary:

    Uncommon perennial fruits and wild crafted products offer unique sustainability potential, but limited information about their potential uses makes them difficult crops to market.  This project will evaluate the potential of 12 uncommon crops and wild crafted products for use in the craft beverage industry. The project’s experienced team of farmers and researchers will develop test batches (60 gallons each) of hard cider-based products that incorporate seaberry, aronia, black currant, cornelian cherry, wild plum, cherry plum, quince, wild black cherry, autumn olive, highbush cranberry, burr oak, and American Elderberry.   The test batches will be evaluated by 600 consumers through online and paper surveys at the Brix Cider tasting room.  Survey results, recipe notes, and growers’ qualitative descriptions of opportunities and challenges with each crop will be shared in an online database.  At two project outreach events, growers and craft beverage producers will have the opportunity to see the results, taste the finished products, and network to develop sales relationships.  This project will contribute to sustainable agriculture through market expansion of diverse, perennial crops that can form an increasing part of vibrant rural landscapes and communities.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The overall goal of this project is to assess the feasibility of expanding markets for 12 perennial crops and foraged plants through the craft beverage industry. Under this goal, we have the following objectives:

    1. Develop qualitative descriptions of challenges and opportunities related to each crop from a horticultural or foraging perspective
    2. Produce 12X60 gallon test batches of hard cider that incorporate each the uncommon crops
    3. Assess consumer perceptions of the finished products through tasting room surveys
    4. Disseminate findings through online informational materials and through two tasting events that include growers and craft beverage producers
    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.