- Fruits: general small fruits
- Additional Plants: native plants
- Crop Production: forestry
- Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, networking, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
- Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, agricultural finance, market study
- Pest Management: field monitoring/scouting, integrated pest management, mulching - plastic
- Production Systems: agroecosystems, permaculture
- Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, sustainability measures
Juneberries (Amelanchier spp.) are just the kind of crop growers and sustainable farming advocates would love - they are native shrubs, with relatively few pest and disease concerns, and they produce a nutrient-dense fruit with high levels of iron, calcium and antioxidant compounds. They ripen during a short period in early summer, bridging the retail fresh fruit season between strawberries and brambles. Juneberries (known elsewhere as saskatoons or serviceberries) aer grown commercially in climates much less forgiving than the Northeast such as North Dakota, Saskatchewan, and northern Michigan, and consumer-friendly varieties are more available than ever. Yet, juneberries are seldom planted for fresh retail or small-scale processing markets in the Northeast. The commercial potential for juneberry production and marketing is significant but underexplored. Growers have almost no data on establishment costs or potential yields. More importantly, fruit growers have no real sense of how they would go over with buyers. There are homesteading families that wild-harvest juneberries, but no evidence of growers who have planted and brought this fruit to market in the Northeast. Successful cultivation of commercial juneberries in the Northeast provides a model for sustainability by diversifying farm income streams, and by minimizing inputs with native permaculture species adapted to the bioregion; they also provide communities with a healthful, tasty and locally-grown fruit. This project will kick-start the agronomic and economic potential of juneberries through education, financial analysis, and the development of marketing data and guidelines. Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ontario County, Happy Goat Farm, and three other cooperating farms will collaborate to develop trial plots, explore key crop infrastructure issues, lead a market introduction, and forecast costs and revenues.
Project objectives from proposal:
Commercial juneberries represent a growing sector of sustainability: cultivating native permaculture species adapted to the bioregion. The objectives of the project are:
1) Determine basic establishment and projected management costs on four on-farm trial plots.
2) Evaluate the effectiveness of weed and mammal damage suppression with weed mats and grow tubes.
3) Quantify the consumer appeal of this minor fruit in you-pick, farm market, CSA, restaurant, and small-scale processing market channels.
4) Disseminate the information gathered through at least three workshops / tours, one production booklet, on-line resources, and grower trade periodicals.