County Extension agents visit Aronia berry farm

Posted August 6, 2015 at 5:00 am

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By Steve Peterson

Nearly 40 participants of the North American County Agents Association attended an annual gathering of Extension services representatives and spent one of their days in Plymouth County at the John and Mary Lucken’s aronia berry farm on July 16.

The county agent reps and their spouses enjoyed a tour of the Lucken farm.

The representatives, from Louisiana to Virginia, learned the many Aronia berry products which Akronia Valley Inc. has or plans to market in the near future, from juices and smoothies to jams, breads and muffins.

Akronia Valley is a combination of the Luckens’ Bluebird Springs and Tony and Jennifer Heisterkamp’s Eden Valley Orchard in rural Union County, S.D.

The aronia berry juice products have been particularly well received by area grocers, from independent grocers to Hy-Vee stores, said Heisterkamp. “Interest in aronia berries has grown exponentially over the last couple of years. They’ll be in grocery stores all over the Midwest. “Between the two farms we have 6,000 bushes of aronia berries.”

Attendees learned the many health benefits of aronia berries – that it is considered tops in antioxidants and it has been known to reverse diseases.

“This used to be part of the Lias farm,” explained John Lucken about how they named their farm. “We bought it seven years ago. The barn was built in 1926 and the land was all in pasture because it has a spring.”

John Lucken said this year’s aronia berries look very good and there may be an early harvest.

Also, TreePans.com inventor Bill Brown, of Akron, gave information about his business and had a booth at the Sioux Falls event.

His wife, Sue Brown, explained the benefits of Iowa’s Blue Zone Initiative, which is Iowa Governor Terry Branstad’s mission to have Iowa named the healthiest state.

Other sites on the tour included DeBoer Tree Farm in Merrill and in Sioux County, Gettings Gardens of Sanborn.

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