Seven years ago, way back in 2010, we hosted our first Elderberry Jam at our farm in Hartsburg, Mo. We drew from our communities in Pittsboro, NC and Hartsburg, Mo to build a beautiful stage, hire bands, and secure countless hours of volunteer help in order to make the first Elderberry Jam happen. Our mission was twofold: throw a great party and spread the good word about elderberry. Seven years later our mission hasn’t changed, but how we accomplish it has. In the ensuing years, we launched and built Norm's Farms into a thriving product business featuring the amazing American elderberry and have turned the festival operation over to native mid-Missourian's Jake West and Andi Green. While we work on growing our product business and sampling elderberry up and down the east coast, they do all the hard work of creating the Elderberry Jam festival on our farm each year.
Jake and Andi hire the great bands and line up the scores of volunteers that keep the festival running. They find the vendors and manage the marketing and publicity too. Our part of festival preparation is small; we arrive 5 days ahead of the festival to do most of the brush-hogging and mowing needed and provide back up during the festival for Jake and Andi. We set up the Norm’s Farms booth so that we can sample our products made from elderberry and give small tours and workshops too.
When we first launched Norm's Farms as a product line we knew that we would need to find other elderberry growers to supplement the berry supply our farm provided. We've been blessed to find great growers in Southern Missouri. Over time Norm's Farms has become more than a full time job for us and we've let the berry production on our farm go.
These days we rent the bottom 50 acres or so to an organic corn and soybean grower, and make the rest of the land available to the local community for camping, festivals, hunting, and hiking. Our farm is now growing opportunities for the local community and we love the fact that our farm is bringing joy to so many mid-Missourians. We still have several acres of elderberries growing on our farm and we invite locals to come pick berries on the farm for their own recipes. In that small way the farm continues to spread the good word about elderberry without being home to large scale elderberry production. All in all, these changes have been a good thing for Norm’s Farms, the local community and the family farmers that count on us as buyers for their elderberry crop.
The annual Elderberry Jam has become a reunion with friends and fellow elderberry enthusiasts that we look forward to every year. This year's Elderberry Jam was so much fun! The music was incredible, the food was over-the-top delicious, and we got to try some amazing home-made elderberry wine and elderflower mead. We found a few people who had not yet heard about the incredible anti-oxidant rich elderberry and enjoyed sharing the history, health benefits and samples of elderberry products we make with them. The weather couldn’t have been better on Friday-a high of 76 degrees and a sunny cloudless sky-unheard of in Mid- Missouri in August! Saturday was less stellar in terms of weather as the skies opened up and it rained most of the day. Not about to let a little inclement weather spoil our day, we quickly converted our berry barn into a dance hall and moved the music in
there. Everyone agreed that the berry barn is a great place to hold events so we may be doing some work on the barn to make it even more event friendly over the coming year. This year's fest is now in our rear-view mirror. We've already begun discussions with Andi and Jake for next year's fest and hope to make 2018 the best Elderberry Jam yet!