Nature’s Medicine Chest

Entrepreneur and scientist Edie Johnston is on a mission to make the common elderberry Maine’s next big cash crop.

By Amy Sutherland

The elderberry bush is too good to be true. The berries pack more healthful goodies than the far more vaunted wild blueberry. With its lovely arching branches and spills of white flowers come mid-summer, the plant thrives easily, even tolerating Maine’s harsh winters and dense soils. Largely disease- and pest-resistant, the bushes live a long twenty-five years. Just one acre’s worth of the purple-black berries may earn a farmer $26,000.

But next to no one is cultivating Sambucus canadensis here.

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Amy Sutherland is the author of three books, including What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and Marriage.