Aronia Berries
Grown in America's Heartland

Coldbrook Farm is the largest aronia grower in the state of Illinois. We grow and market premium fruit, irrigated for milder flavor, processed in food safety audited facilities, and tested and documented. Call us with your applications questions and ingredient needs.

Agribusiness entrepreneur John Pilcher has developed new products for beverage and baking, among them dried sweetened aronia and a nutrition bar slated for distribution in the Middle East. ACRES USA featured his advanced growing methods.

Press Releases


Wind Machine

Crete, Illinois (May10, 2018) – After two successive years of crop damage or loss caused by early bud breaks and late frosts, Midwestern fruit growers have learned that climate change is no friend.
John Pilcher, president of Coldbrook Farm Inc., researched different methods of combating late spring frosts. He then acquired an Orchard-Rite Wind Machine from Superior Wind Machine Service Inc., of Caledonia, Michigan, for his Momence Township aronia field in Kankakee County.
Pilcher observed, “This wind machine is excellent insurance for the life of the crop. It will protect the aronia when it’s most at risk.”
Horticulturist Matt Kallemeyn, who has used wind machines successfully for a year, familiarized Pilcher with their operation at Fair Oaks Farms in Fair Oaks, Indiana. The farm’s orchard manager, Kallemeyn commented that Superior offers a turnkey solution, which provides security even for the non-mechanical.
Superior’s Lee DeLeeuw explained to Pilcher how to maximize coverage where the berries are hit the most by cold winds from the west and northwest. He thinks that Pilcher is the first aronia grower to install a wind machine.
For additional information, contact John Pilcher at or 708-227-2807, Matt Kallemeyn at 708-921-0803 or Lee DeLeeuw at 616-893-4507.
(Dr. Mildred Culp is communications director at Coldbrook Farm Inc. 2018 Passage Media.)


John Pilcher

Photo by James M. Theuri

Crete, Ill. (March 1, 2016) – Coldbrook Farm, Inc., in Crete, was recently featured in Midwest Wine Press . President John Pilcher explained how to evaluate an aronia crop for wine, other beverages and foods.

He identified points about irrigation (to assure a mild flavor), soil type and isolation from harmful spray drift. He also recommended mechanical harvesting for volume and food safety, and processing and frozen storage in an established food safety-audited facility. Midwest Wine Press is  the region’s sole outlet dedicated to news about winemaking and marketing in the heartland.

 In March’s Acres USA, Pilcher provided tips on pruning aronia berry bushes.


Josh CooperCrete, Ill. (October 27, 2015) - Josh Cooper, guest chef for Spec Ingredients Inc., of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, develops succulent, cost-effective, health-oriented products ( He will introduce aronia berries in smoothies on November 11 at the Chicago IFT Annual Suppliers’ Night in the Spec Ingredients Inc. booth, #514, from 12:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Donald E. Stephens Center in Rosemont, Illinois.

Cooper was recognized for Best in Segment at Fancy Food Shows in 2013 and 2014. He maintains that tasty, colorful aronia berries are ideally suited to smoothies and add an extra benefit – more antioxidants than cranberries, blueberries or goji berries, according to the USDA. Cooper will also demo his savory aronia berry salsa.

The full-service Spec Ingredients Inc., offers premium natural and organic products. Under the leadership of Linda Kirchen, the company serves food manufacturers and chefs nationwide. Kirchen has a particular knack for evaluating the potential of ingredients such as aronia in new and existing products.

Grown at Coldbrook Farm near Momence, Illinois, this blending fruit creates different flavor profiles and new colors in smoothies and other foods you know and enjoy ( Cooper will incorporate some of the 29 wide-ranging fruits Coldbrook Farm Inc., has identified as blending easily with aronia berries, creating dramatic colors and ambrosial flavors.

Stop by and have a sip! To schedule an appointment with Kirchen, please call 414-839-4328.


Crete, Ill. (March 12, 2015) - The high antioxidant aronia berry comes with a bonus – versatility. Combinations for the wide range of dishes are almost endless with frozen (IQF) aronia from Coldbrook Farm Inc. in Crete. 

“We've uncovered an array,” says John E. Pilcher, President, “and we're continuing beyond the 26. Many of the fruits are also compatible with our dried sweetened product.” 

For further information, contact Pilcher at 708-227-2807 or


Crete, Ill. (February 2, 2015) - An article published in the British Journal of Nutrition covers the potential impact of aronia extract in treating diabetes, obesity, heart disease and inflammation. David Walsh, MRPharmS, BSc, a Pharmaceutical Journal online blogger, summarized the article for the general reader.

“We look forward to additional research using human subjects,” says John Pilcher, president of Coldbrook Farm Inc. in Crete, Illinois.


Crete, Ill. (November 3, 2014) - Americans usually associate Thanksgiving dinner with large helpings of turkey and high calorie count, but don’t forget the fixings. This year, round out your Thanksgiving menu with healthier side dishes, such as Antioxidant-Rich Stuffing and Aronia Berry Bread. 

Chefs can make Antioxidant-Rich Stuffing with Coldbrook Farm’s dried sweetened aronia berries. Mix them in the dressing before stuffing the bird, or if the dressing is baked separately, just before serving. According to the USDA ORAC Summary, aronia berries scored 77 percent higher than cranberries. That means they help fight oxygen-free radicals, which damage the immune system. 

Frozen (IQF) aronia berries, combined with juice and grated peel from a fresh orange, make a delicious Aronia Berry Bread for Thanksgiving and beyond. Make it a day before and refrigerate to allow the flavors to blend.

For additional information, contact John Pilcher, president of Coldbrook Farm Inc., at 708-227-2807 or


Crete, Ill. (October 6, 2014) - Aronia has gone mainstream. Beech-Nut, noting aronia’s antioxidants, has released a baby food with aronia in its 100 percent natural line. Check grocery shelves to find  Just Apple and Aronia Berry. This confirms the prediction earlier this year by Bell Flavors & Fragrances Inc. that aronia would be trending in 2014.

While demonstrating dried sweetened aronia berries in a store, Coldbrook Farm Inc. president John Pilcher watched a young father stop at the table with samples. “His toddler, a three-year-old sitting in the kiddie seat in the shopping cart,” Pilcher says, “reached for the sample in her chubby little hands and tossed it down the hatch.” Three girls under the age of 11 sampled with gusto at another demonstration. Their father bought a tub of berries without even tasting them.

Midwestern grown aronia berries aren’t just for babies, little girls and fathers. For additional information about trends in dried sweetened and frozen (IQF) aronia, contact Pilcher at 708-227-2807 or


Crete, Ill. (September 9, 2014) - “How America Eats: Snacking Our Way through the Day,” a Hartman Group report published July 30, based on a survey of 1,790 adults finds that the heaviest snacking in the United States – 65 percent – occurs after lunch. FMI’s U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends 2014, indicates that 43 percent of 1,059 shoppers believe their main store will contribute to their health and wellness. 

Chefs and food manufacturers can increase the healthiness of their products by incorporating aronia, America’s antioxidant berry, in their offerings. The antioxidant superiority of aronia berries makes them a natural for the snack ingredients market, according to John Pilcher, president of Coldbrook Farm Inc., Crete, Ill. ( It produces dried sweetened and frozen (IQF) aronia berries. 

Sugar-free dried sweetened aronia berries, when paired with mozzarella cheese, create tasty, healthy snacks and appetizers, such as the easy CheezAronia Bites. Popcorn may be the next innovative pairing with aronia. 

For further information, contact Pilcher at 708-227-2807 or


Crete, Ill. (May 19, 2014) - The Food Marketing Institute will be debuting aronia, America’s antioxidant berry, on Wednesday and Thursday June 11 and 12, 2014, at Chicago’s McCormick Place from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Event planners expect 6,100 attendees (4,000 buyers and brokers, domestic and international). Among the exhibitors, Coldbrook Farm Inc. of Crete, Illinois, will introduce dried sweetened aronia berries in newly designed packaging and speak with interested parties about frozen (IQF) aronia berries, as well. Both are offered for export. Samples of dried sweetened aronia berries, a healthy snack food, await visitors.

Irrigation makes Coldbrook Farm berries some of the mildest on the planet. In addition, irrigation assures a more uniform size than the non-irrigated counterparts. These healthy berries are North American grown and new to many buyers.

“They scored extremely high in antioxidants in the 2009 USDA ORAC Survey,” reports John Pilcher, president of Coldbrook Farm, “second only to black raspberries and way above blueberries and cranberries. We use sustainable growing methods – all without herbicides or synthetic pesticides.”

Pilcher is forming an alliance of growers in six states. “We’re pleased to be joining exhibitors at FMI,” he comments. Coldbrook Farm counts among its clients the Midwestern grocery chains Hy-Vee and Schnucks.


Crete, Ill. (May 5, 2014) - The versatility of high-antioxidant aronia berries, frozen (IQF) or dried, is demonstrated by food manufacturers and chefs as they incorporate this dark purple fruit in baked goods, such as energy bars, breads and pies, and gourmet chocolates.

“The RazzyJazzy-Aronia Pie we’ve developed is a perfect example.” reports John Pilcher, president of Coldbrook Farm Inc. in Crete, Illinois. “Its blend of red raspberries with aronia berries creates an ambrosial, attractive way to end a meal. We've also developed recipes for dried sweetened aronia.

Aronia berries take on new flavors with apples, strawberries, peaches, oranges, cherries, red raspberries and pears. Irrigation imparts Coldbrook Farm aronia berries with a milder flavor than unirrigated berries. They are grown without herbicides or synthetic pesticides and are available for export.


Crete, Ill. (February 1, 2014) - Bell Flavors & Fragrances, a global marketer of flavors and fragrances headquartered in Northbrook, Ill., predicted in the January 8 newsletter of the Institute of Food Technologists that aronia berries will be the fourth highest flavor trend this year.

The hardy high-antioxidant aronia berries originated in North America. On Thursday, February 20, agribusiness entrepreneur John Pilcher, president of Coldbrook Farm Inc. in Crete, Ill., will be speaking at the Kankakee Fruit & Vegetable Growers Symposium at Kankakee Community College, 100 College Dr., Kankakee, Ill. His talk, “Aronia – An Alternative Fruit Crop,” will begin at 2:00 p.m. CST.

Purdue University Extension and  University of Illinois Extension will feature Pilcher on “Aronia Berries” at the Illiana Vegetable Growers Symposium, rescheduled for Tuesday, March 4, at 2:30 p.m. CST at Teibel's Restaurant, located at 1775 US Highway Route 41, Schererville, Ind.

Pilcher works with growers around the country to promote this remarkable fruit. He specializes in  sweetened dried aronia berries.


Crete, Ill. (November 22, 2013) - Purdue University and University of Illinois Extension will host John Pilcher, president of Coldbrook Farm Inc., Crete, Ill., at its annual Illiana Vegetable Growers Symposium on Tuesday, January 7, 2014. Pilcher, Illinois' largest aronia berry producer, will speak about "Aronia: A New Alternative." The all-day program will be held from 8:00 a.m. CST to 4:00 p.m. CST at Teibel's Restaurant in Schererville, Ind. Attendees are expected from Indiana, Illinois and Michigan.

Pilcher will talk about how blueberry growers phasing out mature stands can make a gradual transition into aronia production for diversification. To accelerate their return on investment, he recommends planting plugs rather than slips, which shouldn't affect cost. With existing irrigation and established rows, the transition is relatively easy. Some crop will appear in the second year and by the third year, a stand may be profitable.

Pilcher works with growers who want to diversify and he markets frozen (IQF) and dried aronia berries wholesale. Schnucks and Hy-Vee are two large Midwestern grocery chains that carry Coldbrook Farm's dried sweetened aronia berries.


Crete, Ill. (July 14, 2013) - On Wednesday, August 28, 2013 from 9:30 a.m. CDT to noon, Coldbrook Farm Inc. will host Aronia Field Day in Momence, Ill., co-sponsored by University of Illinois Extension, Trickl-Eez Co., HH Wild Plums Inc. and McKibben Manufacturing Inc.

Coldbrook Farm's John Pilcher will speak about the profitability of this remarkable fruit, which is disease-resistant. It offers an easy transition for fruit growers who irrigate. Aronia berries, with stands that last 25 years, are also attractive to growers looking for a legacy crop to pass to the next generation.

James M. Theuri, local food systems and small farms educator at the University of Illinois Extension, will be speaking about "The Suitability of Aronia for Midwestern Growers." Doug Foster, district sales manager at St. Joseph, Mich.’s Trickl-Eez, will cover “Drip Irrigation for Aronia.” Tammy Melcher, sales manager at Clarkson, Neb.’s HH Wild Plums, will speak about “How Our Nursery Grows Aronia Stock.” Jeff McKibben, president at Grand Junction, Mich.'s McKibben Manufacturing, will talk about "Blueberry Harvesters for Aronia Growers."

Coldbrook Farm includes among its accounts regional grocers Schnucks and Hy-Vee, and other outlets in Illinois and Indiana. It also markets to wholesale buyers.

Register for this free event by calling the Extension office at 815-933-8337 by August 27, 2013. For additional information, email


Crete, Ill. (March 12, 2013) - Members of the Midwest Aronia Association will be convening for its annual conference April 4-6 in Des Moines, Iowa. The organization is national, with membership throughout North America. On Friday, April 5, agribusiness entrepreneur John E. Pilcher will be a featured speaker. He is president of Coldbrook Farm Inc.

Approximately 140 aronia growers and marketers are expected to hear "Our Natural Advantage," in which Pilcher will discuss how he backed into marketing, the role of entrepreneurs and innovators in the industry and the future of aronia. Coldbrook Farm sweetened dried aronia berries are offered through major regional grocery chains and other market channels.


Crete, Ill. (December 11, 2012) - Coldbrook Farm’s dried sweetened aronia berries have arrived at Schnucks stores, joining an impressive list of dried natural fruit products offered by the St. Louis-based grocery retailer.

Although the juice has long been an ingredient in antioxidant fruit juice blends, Coldbrook Farm dried sweetened aronia berries are the first North American-grown offered by major regional grocery chains. With no sugar added, no fat and no cholesterol, they can be eaten as a healthy snack or added to an array of dishes, including dinner entrees.

Aronia berries, originating in North America, are high in antioxidants. They have been grown commercially in the Midwest for over 20 years. Antioxidants boost the immune system and promote cardiovascular health. In a USDA survey, the antioxidant levels in aronia berries outscored cranberries by 77% and blueberries by 244%.

For recipes, click here: frozen (IQF) aronia berries and dried aronia berries.

2014 / 2018 Coldbrook Farm, Inc.