With the elderflower drink market predicted to show strong growth over the next few years, a food scientist at the University of Nottingham’s School of Biosciences, has been appointed as a Nuffield Scholar to broaden the understanding of the different varieties of elderflower and explore husbandry techniques and best practice in the commercial cultivation of elders for the UK elderflower processing industries.
Alice Jones, who is part of the Enabling Food Innovation Team at Sutton Bonington said: “I realised that there was little existing knowledge in the UK about growing elderflower, which is predominantly still picked in the wild.
"There is little information about returns per acre or what farming systems would make it profitable to grow. Processing such a highly perishable raw material is also a major challenge.”
Research and trials into elder cultivation are being carried out in other parts of the world. Similar crops already in mass production might also generate transferable ideas.
She said: “I am going to visit commercial growers of elder across the US and Canada and discuss with them the farming systems and practices that are most successful and profitable.
"I am also going to visit growers of other related tree crops and look at some of the innovative and sustainable ways in which they are being grown, for example in agroforestry, silvopasture and riparian buffer systems and look at some of the general themes that are important to ensuring long term productivity of perennial crops such as elder."