Small-scale Commercial Juneberry Establishment and Marketing
The scale of this project expanded rapidly during 2011, as a direct result of the outreach and education components. In fact, it has scaled up well beyond the original project objectives, and is becoming one of those projects that takes on a life of its own.
In addition to implementing a major juneberry education seminar in March 2011 with 60 attendees, the ensuing publicity and word-of-mouth “buzz” has brought interest from hundreds more people, with direct inquiries from 25 growers in 10 states. Internet traffic to the new juneberry information website included just over 2,000 unique page views
A substantial amount of the project time was diverted from the original project plan to handling 7 media requests, 28 inquiries from new growers not previously involved in the project, and assisting 15 growers with plant material acquisition problems. None of these activities were planned, but involved many hours of project time, cutting into the project leader’s ability to collect 2011 plant growth data.
Marketing analysis – Research existing retail prices / units associated with fresh juneberry sales to determine range. Distribute and test market juneberries.
• As of summer 2011, the juneberry marketing analysis is complete. A report summarizing the reactions of more than 1,500 consumers is completed and available on the project website.
Planting trial – establish 4 plots of juneberries on four partnering farms and record crop establishment data.
• As of April 2011, a four demonstration plots are fully developed with 100 plants in each representing four juneberry cultivars. The survival rate of the plants after their first year is 95%, and the research set-up involving grow tubes is in place at all four farms. The farms have received their project stipend and all are fully engaged in the project.
Crop development measurements – individual plants are quantitatively rated for overall height, pest damage, and development of new growth.
• Crop development data was collected in 2010 on two occasions by the partner farmers (measurements of plant height and assessment of plant vigor). These same data points were not collected in 2011, but will be collected in the third project year (2012).
Outreach and education – develop workshops, create and distribute educational materials, and use existing grower periodicals to disseminate project information.
• A major workshop about juneberry planting and cultivation was held on March 5, 2011, with 60 producers attending a 6-hour series of education presentations in Geneva, NY. There were three media stories resulting in articles published in Lancaster Farming, NY Fruit quarterly, and the Cornell Chronicle.
• In June – August 2011, four additional media requests led to articles published in the Brattleboro (Vt) Reformer, ornell Small Farms Quarterly, Cornell CALS News, and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, as well as radio broadcast on Vantage Points, and broadcast on the Fox news television affiliate in Rochester, NY.
• Four bulletins were created and published on-line and distributed upon request to growers.
– Developed extensive sampling infrastructure with thawed berries at Empire Farm Days in New York, and two direct market venues (CSA member pick up).
– Collected and recorded juneberry tasting feedback from consumers, totaling more than 1,600 samples.
– Obtained additional 25 lbs of juneberries to be processed into dried fruit for sampling and juneberry jam for sampling and recipe analysis. Conducted sampling activities and collected results.
Results: The formal results of this sampling effort are included in the report “Marketing juneberries / saskatoons as a new crop in the Northeast US: Consumer reactions and recommendations.” Response from consumers unfamiliar with juneberries has been very positive and promising, answering an important question in this project – will consumers find the berries appealing? This report in turn has been used by a juneberry/saskatoon marketing council in Canada
Planning and creation of the project website, www.juneberries.org , with subsequent updates and website revision in October 2011.
Development of a one-day juneberry establishment and marketing seminar (March 5, 2011), with a farmer speaker from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and an Extension agent from northwest Michigan. Sixty participants (predominantly farmers, with some Extension agents and media representatives) attended, with the following feedback three weeks after the workshop:
• More attention and knowledge is needed. I believe Juneberries may provide a good crop for me to expand my farm
• I appreciated getting info on eating qualities of different varieties-specifically which one to avoid! Hard to know otherwise, since catalog descriptions emphasize the positives almost exclusively. I also appreciated having the need for weed control and irrigation in the early years emphasized repeatedly
• Well put together workshop-knowledgeable presenters-could answer all questions thoroughly.
• I found all of the above to be both interesting and useful.
• I found it all very interesting as there is so little known about them here.
• My direct sales will be on a very small scale so cultural information and nutrient content are of greatest importance to me.
• Steve was a good speaker with good info. Jarvis had lots of good practical information-I wondered if he made is $ off the berries or the plants he propagated & sold. Does he have a biased/influence being a plant salesman vs just a grower.
• I advise commercial berry growers and I was deeply appreciative of the opportunity this workshop presented to build on my juneberry knowledge base
• Like the idea of growing a niche crop that doesn’t have market saturation like apples.
• Very interesting, learning about all facets of growing/propagating. I am very interested in such a new crop and its nutritive value. I would be very interested in establishing a marketable crop in the southern tier.
Four new Extension bulletins were created as a result of this project in 2011:
• Juneberry crop profile
• Selecting a site for planting juneberries
• Juneberry Quick Start guide
• Listing of nurseries that carry juneberry / saskatoon plants
These bulletins are available on the project website and through Cornell Cooperative Extension.
Developed and conducted an on-farm tour at Happy Goat Farm, one of the partner farms, on August 25, 2011. Twenty-one farmers attended, including farmers who had participated in the March 2011 seminar, and farmers who had since become interested in juneberry cultivation.
As a result of both media coverage, and existing interest, more than 2 dozen growers have contacted the project leader via e-mail and phone to inquire about juneberry establishment, and guidelines for cultivation, marketing, and pest management. These queries each took 30 – 90 minutes of discussion and education, to address questions and review the grower’s circumstances and applicability to their farm. The serious queries came from Vermont, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, Virginia, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Nevada. A serious inquiry from a fruit grower in Poland came to the project leader in December 2011.
Project leader travelled to northwest Michigan in July 2011 to take extensive photographs and meet with farmers and nurseries active in juneberry production. This information and images are crucial to the education and outreach component of the project, since pest evidence and propagation / marketing activities are inherent to the cultivation of the crop.
During the establishment year (2010), plant growth and vigor data was collected by the partnering farms on survey sheets, as well as crop establishment labor and materials expenses. The information has been summarized to provide basic estimates of juneberry establishment expenses.
In 2011, partnering farms made casual observations of plant growth and vigor, but due to the project leader’s time spent in extra outreach and education, responding to multiple new inquiries, data sheets for 2011 were not completed. These will be a priority in 2012, so final plant growth measurements can be collected. The gap in sequence of plant growth is not expected to compromise the project integrity.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
As a result of this project, 22 farms in the Northeast have begun preparing juneberry growing areas, obtaining plant material, and working on pest management techniques and irrigation to bring this fruit into commercial small-scale production. The crop takes a few years to begin producing, but crop yields are already predicted to be about 20,000 pounds of juneberries with a near-term market value of more than $100,000.
The number of consumers that have been oriented to juneberries as a result of this project is innumerable, but likely in the tens of thousands due to the very widespread media outreach from the project. The lack of actual juneberry production makes it impossible to translate this outreach into economic impact, but it is safe to say that the potential market is primed.
Project launches the nutrient-dense juneberry as new fruit crop for the Northeast
New Superfruit Growing in New York
Juneberries – They Go Where Blueberries Can’t (Small Farms Quarterly)
DeMallie Fruit Farm
6850 Gulick Road
Naples, NY 14512
Office Phone: 5853746266
Cooperating farm owner
G and S Orchards
4570 Lincoln Road
Macedon, NY 14502
Office Phone: 3155243823
6050 Hicks Rd.
Naples, NY 14512
Office Phone: 5853949460
6640 Richardson Rd
Victor, NY 14564
Office Phone: 5853987878