Resilient “superfruits” could benefit New York growers by diversifying their crops with native berries and appeal to consumers by offering nutritious new fruit choices.
Four such delectable berries – honeyberry, juneberry, aronia and elderberry – are being studied at Willsboro Research Farm, which is marking the 10-year anniversary of its specialty fruit trials.
These native berries were essential food sources for Native Americans and early European colonists, ripening at different times throughout the growing season. They are vitamin-rich and high in fiber and antioxidants, but somewhere along the way, these fruits were deemed less commercially viable, and the berries found in today’s supermarkets, like strawberry, blueberry and raspberry, became dominant. Now, with climate change and invasive pests threatening those crops, and increased consumer interest in local and unique foods, a handful of entrepreneurial growers and researchers are trying to resurrect these superfruits in New York.