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Grow with KARE: What's New at the U?

Elderberry & American Hazelnut are great crops that will continue to expand across Minnesota.

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — What new at the U of M?  Our friend Beth Dooley an award winning chef, author and food advocate always keeps us in the loop.  

The Forever Green Initiative is a University of Minnesota and USDA Agriculture Research Service  program to develop new crops and high-efficiency cropping systems.  Today we were learned about the Elderberry crop and the American Hazelnut tree.

To learn more about our native elderberry (Sambucus canadensis), visit the Midwest Elderberry Cooperative grower website.  You will find info on how to identify it in the wild and how to grow it in your yard or on the farm - in addition to quite a few articles about its potential health benefits. You may also buy frozen, thermally dried and freeze dried elderberries online: click the Buying tab. We only sell what we grow here in the Midwest. The River Hills Harvest products are carried by a number of retailers like local food coops, Hy-Vee Health Markets and Fresh Thyme, but few stores carry all of them. Please ask them to do so! For a fairly good list of locations, check here 

The University of Minnesota Forever Green Initiative has been actively researching and breeding hybrid hazelnuts for commercial production for many years. As a woody perennial (a plant that comes back every year without having to replant) with a long life-span and deep roots, hazelnuts protect our water and soil, provide habitat for wildlife and bird species and can be used as a natural windbreak, shelterbelt and/or living snow fence.

The hazelnut hybrids in development are a cross between the native species found in the forest understory and along trails throughout Minnesota and the larger, thinner-shelled commercial European varieties. The native species is of interest because it exhibits strong resistance to a common hazelnut disease called Eastern Filbert Blight (EFB) and is cold-hardy, which is necessary for production in the Midwest. Jason Fischbach from University of Wisconsin-Extension and Lois Braun from the Forever Green Initiative have partnered for several years, breeding and identifying the best plants for commercial production and working with other researchers, innovative Midwest growers, engineers and even culinary professionals to improve production, harvesting and processing of hybrid hazelnuts. An annual conference open to growers, researchers, industry and the curious public is hosted the first week of March and will be held in year in Decorah, Iowa in 2020. Consumers interested in trying the delicious nuts, flour or oil made from this new crop can look for products packaged by The American Hazelnut Company at grocery stores, gourmet oil stores and restaurants across the Midwest or online through the American Hazelnut Company.

This weekend there is an event in Rochester where you can learn much more about these beauties and more.  

On Dec. 7 there is an event at the Mayo Civic Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. where you can learn much more about these beauties. Tickets are available online at the Local Feast or at the door. There will be lots of samples of new local products, beer, wine, and local sodas plus cooking demos and plenty of information about new local foods.

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We answered more of your lovely social media questions on our latest Grow with KARE Q&A, during our Dec. 7 morning show.

Check out more Grow with KARE on our YouTube channel.