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Alternative agriculture at Homestead Aronia

Published: Aug. 27, 2021 at 2:45 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Near the community of Stromsburg, and on the property where famous Nebraskan Charles Morrill enjoyed his summers, you’ll find a couple that enjoys farming the alternative crop of aronia berries.

We talked with Cindy Schofield about their home, which is “The Homestead”. This was the summer home of Charles Morrill, and it just so happens to be the 150th anniversary of the Charles H. Morrill Homestead. Schofield’s business is called “Homestead Aronia.” “We were looking for an alternative crop in 2015, and our neighbor had planted about 10 acres of aronia,” Schofield said. “At that point, we did some research and decided we would like to do this as an alternative crop to corn and soybeans. Aronia is the chokeberry. It’s native to North America. All parts of the plants were used by the Native Americans for medicinal purposes, for staying healthy in the winter time. It’s high in vitamin C, it’s an amazing berry that we’ve lost track of, and we want to tell people about it, and how good it is.”

Schofield says the berries are high in tannins. “They are the most antioxidant fruit next to the acai berry,” Schofield said. “It’s not sweet. It’s tart. It has astringent properties in your mouth, but it’s amazing because you can add it to smoothies, pancakes, and make savory dishes from it, along with salads and chilis.” At Homestead Aronia, they harvest the berries and ship them frozen to people. We also fresh press the juice, and sell that from the farm. “I also make some jams for people,” Schofield said. “It’s fun to do.”

There is a building on the property that Schofield uses as a seasonal gift shop. “The building was called the creamery,” Schofield said. “Charles Morrill built this. He operated a creamery, had dairy cattle, and he sold milk to people in Stromsburg. It served many purposes, and I wanted to save the building,” There is a concrete cow outside the old creamery. “It was here on the property,” Schofield said. “Morrill had built two cement oxen, and he had a conestoga wagon, which represented the homesteaders coming. The cow is the only remaining portion of that display, and we chose to put the cow in front of the creamery.”

If you would like to know more about Homestead Aronia, go to homesteadaronia.com. The business is also hosting an Aronia Berry Festival this Saturday, from 5 to 7 p.m. There are also pick your own berries events happening on Saturday, from 8 to 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. On Sunday, you are also encouraged to pick your own berries during the same time frame.

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