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Elderberries
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Elderberries
A fruiting elderberry at Eldertide Pharm in Dresden, Maine. Photo by Tina Fisher-Dark, published in the Winter 2009-2010 Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

Articles
Tamiflu, being stockpiled in case of a large swine flu outbreak, is expensive, can have harmful side effects (to the point that it has been banned in Japan), and is not completely effective against the flu. Black elderberry extract (from Sambucus nigra), on the other hand, fights many kinds of flu, has been used safely for a long time.

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Edie & Geo JohnstonEdie Johnston is the kind of entrepreneur who doesn’t just focus on one idea. Instead, she’s cultivating several visions at once: a farm, a fruit revival, a medical breakthrough and a revitalized economy. But at the center of all Johnston’s plans lies the same object: a small, dark-purple elderberry.

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Elderberry flowersRobert Henderson comments in The Neighborhood Forager that the elderberry (genus Sambucus) “is a case study in the dramatic conversion of North Americans from largely self-sufficient peoples to consumers.” Because of its variety of uses, elder bushes became a part of many homestead plantings, often growing alongside lilacs, forsythia and apple trees.

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Elderberry BushMy first memory of elder bushes was in my best friend’s yard. Her father had a neat row of the plants, mulched with peanut hulls. He made wine with the berries. We were forbidden to pick any of the fruit, and upon tasting the raw berries, the ban suited me fine. My friend and I spent hours sifting through the mulch looking for a whole peanut. We never found one.

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