We utilize the fruit of an invasive plant to make delicious food.
When a plant spreads faster than people prefer and it causes economic or environmental harm, the plant is labeled as “invasive,” and people spend a lot of time and money trying to control or eliminate it.
In the early 1900s, one particular plant, the autumn olive tree (Elaeagnus umbellate), was brought to the U.S. from Asia. Farmers and the U.S. Government planted it in rural areas to serve as wind breaks and to help control erosion.
The trees persisted, and today we harvest the autumn berries of these wild growing trees to make our products.
Controlling an invasive species naturally
By now the autumn olive has become a part of the rural landscape, but it is too aggressive, spreading quickly and crowding out other species. The tree produces a small, red berry that birds love to eat, and they spread the autumn olive seeds far and wide.
Because the autumn olive threatens the diversity of natural areas, conservation groups chop it down and spray it with herbicides. However, there is a better way to control, and use this plant.
At Autumn Berry Inspired we do our part to help control the spread of this tree by raising awareness around this issue and by harvesting the berries (which are very tasty and highly nutritious for humans) before the birds can get to them. We also help landowners harvest the autumn berries growing on their property and encourage them to sell the fruit to us.
We feel it is our duty and privilege to make use of this under-utilized resource
We use the autumn berries we harvest and buy to make our own delicious products.
In addition, we have partnered with quality restaurants and food makers in Central Illinois and Chicago to discover delightful new uses for the autumn berry and to bring these healthy products to as many people as possible.
We are confident that by turning this invasive species into a useful commodity, we can transform land that is overcrowded with autumn olive trees into productive, diverse, and profitable forest farms.