Eldon Everhart, Field Specialist-Horticulture, Southwest
Aronia berry is a major commercial crop in Europe. They contain higher levels of antioxidants than most other fruits and research has documented its health benefits. The demand for aronia in the US is currently greater than the domestic supply. Most US consumers do not know much if anything about aronia. The plants are easily to grow, environmentally friendly, and adapted to Iowa. Currently, aronia is not a major crop in the US.
The Aronia Berry Display at the Farm Progress Show (August 26, 27, and 28, 2008) featured an interactive educational computer learning tool, live aronia plants, and aronia berries for clients to see and taste test. Aronia educational sessions were presented on the stage, the aronia berry song was played, aronia berry fans were given away, and taste tests were conducted. Before the show, 19 volunteers received two hours of training about aronia. Adobe Connect was used to deliver a power point presentation and Q&A session statewide. Written information was sent to the volunteers as attachments. During the show, three to five trained volunteers were always at the display to answer questions, interact with clients, invite people to use the interactive computer program, and pass out information and aronia fans. The display was also used at the Clay County Fair and the Aronia Berry Festival in Harrison County. The display will be used by the newly organized Central Iowa Aronia Berry Association made up of 12 growers and in Southeast Iowa by the growers involved in the Leopold aronia grant.
Seven hundred people from five states and four countries talked with 19 volunteers at the Aronia Berry Display during the Farm Progress Show. Thousands more viewed the display. Thousands more learned about aronia and the display in local and statewide news coverage including more than 100 promotional pieces on radio stations and in newspapers, newsletters, magazine articles, and the Internet. As a result, many people have become interested in aronia. In the 6 months following the event, over 100 people contacted ISU representatives about aronia. Over 250 people have contacted ISU or local aronia growers for information about aronia. Many people now recognize that aronia may become a major crop in Iowa within the next three to five years. The impact of ISU Extension’s aronia educational efforts may be a new multi-million dollar industry in Iowa.
130 Horticulture: Commercial and Consumer
Page last updated:
April 6, 2009
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