Commercial Elderberry – a Request for Small Woods Members

Dear Smallwoods,

A friend of coppice and of bushcraft forums has suggested I contact you with my search. In essence, I have a commercial venture that involves spreading the native elder into the fields:-

I’m looking to work with someone who would be willing/ able to grow a few acres of elderberry bushes.

My name is Richard and I have been an active member of BushcraftUK for many years. Increasingly I have been exploring the commercial side of making country wines. I’ve developed a great recipe for elderflower champagne, and now have a marketed version using wild picked sources. However, I’m currently looking at single variety wines (just as most grape wines are from single or limited blend varieties). I have identified a handful of suitable strains. What is lacking is being able to grow them at scale. I have got good contacts who can advise on cultivation.

Soil wise they like it moist, adequately drained and fertile. Full sun. Thrive best with added manure each year. Pruning can be pretty casual – levelling the plant to a metre every 3yrs. Mowing between rows is needed.

Working out how to finance growing elderflowers, I think it might work if the grower gets paid perhaps between £1.50 and £5 per kg. The buyer pays this and also pays/ provides the pickers.

I ran some estimates on the expected crop. I have trialled growing on my allotment and I have a contact growing them on a 10 acre site. I think a conservative estimate of the crop would be something like 200+kg per acre. So, that looks like a payment of £300 to £1,000 per acre per year from buyer to grower. In addition, you might get back your own wine at trade price and market it locally for further enjoyment and profit.

So I am looking for someone to grow some selected varieties for me, useful for my elderflower champagnes, but also good for cordial making and spreading native forest plants into the fields.

Perks of the role would include a few free bottles of the champagne each year.

If interested then please get in touch.