How to get more vitamin D from your Shiitake mushroom harvest


Shiitake mushrooms growing on oak logs at Half Hill Farm in Woodbury, TN

If you purchased a Shiitake mushroom log from Half Hill Farm that is tagged “F14,” now is the time to follow your soaking / shocking steps to get your first edible mushrooms within a week.

Once your Shiitake mushroom log starts producing mushrooms, there’s a simple technique that dramatically increases their vitamin D before you either eat them or dehydrate them for long term storage.

Mycologist Paul Stamets details this simple process and science here, but the basic steps are pretty simple:

  1. Remove stems and slice into roughly half inch slices.
  2. Spread slices evenly on drying racks (anything that allows air flow) in the sunshine with the gills facing up for 6 peak hours avoiding early morning dew and evening moisture.
  3. Bring the mushrooms indoors overnight to avoid humidity, then repeat 6 hours of sun exposure the next day to achieve 12 total peak hours of UV exposure.
  4. Finish completely drying your Shiitake mushrooms in a dehydrator, and store them in sealed jars. To enjoy anytime, simply soak them for an hour and follow most any recipe for fresh mushrooms.

According to Stamets, Shiitake mushrooms that are not exposed to sun may have less than 40 IU/100g of vitamin D. With the steps above, you can expect 46,000 IU/100g of vitamin D, D2, D3, and D4!

To achieve healthy serum levels of vitamin D exclusively from your dried Shiitake mushrooms, you will need to eat no more than 10 grams a day which is roughly equivalent to 100 grams of fresh Shiitake (3.6 ounces).

Purchase your own mushroom log: Our one foot Shiitake mushroom logs are available for scheduled pick up on our farm in Woodbury, TN. They are $22 and will produce 15-20 lbs. of mushrooms over a 3-5 year period. Here is how to get yours.

Make your own mushroom log: Schedule your own private 2-3 hour mushroom log workshop for groups of up to four people on our farm, take home the log you make, and start turning your own logs into a sustainable food source. Here’s how to schedule your workshop.

DISCLAIMER: I am a farmer. I am not a doctor. Please consult your physician before using any of our products or advice for health purposes.

Local farm makes medicinal extracts from native mushrooms


Farmers turn to cancer-fighting – Cannon Courier – April 9, 2014

(WOODBURY, TN) Mushrooms are revered in ancient herbal medicine as a cure-all for everything from colds and flu to cancer. With recent research validating some of this ancient wisdom, a local organic farm is turning native Turkey Tail mushrooms into medicinal extracts.

Half Hill Farm is a small seven acre USDA Certified Organic farm in Woodbury, TN specializing in apples, blueberries, hops and mushrooms. But a recent cancer diagnosis for one of the owner’s 72 year old mother made mushrooms a priority.

“Cancer has a way of making you change your priorities and rethink your life routines,” said farm co-owner Vince Oropesa. Last year his mother was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. Working with her doctors in Murfreesboro, he began providing her with extracts from a native Turkey Tail mushroom as an adjunct therapy to chemo treatments.

“She was at a stage in her health and age where the doctors left it to her whether to go through chemo,” Oropesa said. “We take it a day at a time, but she has surprised us and the doctors through every turn. She’s a real fighter.”

Months before the cancer diagnosis, Oropesa and his husband Christian Grantham began building farm infrastructure to cultivate edible mushrooms for local markets.

“When we got the news of Sandy’s diagnosis, our priorities shifted as well to research on medicinal mushrooms growing in our own back yard,” Grantham said.

What the farmers found opened their eyes to an opportunity to not only help Vince’s mother, but also many people dealing with cancer and other illnesses.

“It was a real wake up call to pay attention to what was literally growing right under our noses,” Grantham added. “Life has a way of doing that, and it’s up to us how we respond to that opportunity.”

Turkey Tail (Trametes Versicolor) grows wild throughout Tennessee and the world. The anti-cancer properties of extracted polysaccharides (PSK) and polypeptides (PSP) from Turkey Tail mushrooms are approved cancer drugs in Japan. Private research in America has been limited because pharmaceutical companies cannot patent the results. That has prompted the U.S. government to start funding research.

In late 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a $5.4 million grant to study 4-6 gram daily doses of Turkey Tail mushroom extract on stage IV colon and lung cancer. This comes on the heels of promising National Institute of Health (NIH) research on breast cancer. The funding also follows a University of Pennsylvania study showing Turkey Tail mushroom extracts dramatically increases life expectancy for pets with cancer.

“The NIH studies alone showing enhanced Natural Killer (NK) cells and reduced tumor growth in breast cancer patients was enough for us to immediately start Vince’s mother on Turkey Tails,” Grantham said.

Since creating their mushroom extracts, Oropesa and Grantham find interest mostly from people whose illness has them searching for natural alternatives and adjunct therapies. The two say the extracts they are creating on their farm are just as effective as preventative treatment.

“We take our extracts everyday,” Grantham said. “We do Turkey Tail in our morning coffee and Reishi in our evening tea. We’re not doctors, so we try not to talk about how we feel because we don’t want to sound crazy, but it is turning into a life-long routine for us.”

The dual extraction process subjects dried mushrooms to a lengthy hot water and alcohol extraction process that takes a month to complete. The result is a 1:1 concentrated dual extract you can mix into foods or drink.

Most of the farm’s customers for extracts are people whose priorities have changed due to illness. To bring their medicinal extracts to a larger market, the two farmers are taking a page from the medicinal marijuana industry and are infusing their product in food.


Red Reishi Mushroom 1:1 dual extract – available as gifts and soon as infused chocolates from our farm’s online store.

“Most people who aren’t sick don’t quiet understand what to do with our extracts, and that’s OK,” Oropesa said. “But everybody understands chocolate, and most eat them before we have a chance to tell them how good it is for them.”

Half Hill Farm offers Spring and Fall workshops on growing your own edible and medicinal mushrooms on oak logs as well as how to make your own extracts. Their mushroom extracts and infused chocolates will be available online soon.

PURCHASE NOW: Buy our Turkey Tail or Red Reishi extracts online.

Learn more:

DISCLAIMER: I am a farmer. I am not a doctor. Please consult your physician before using any of our products for health purposes. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Our products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. These food products were made in a private home not licensed or inspected.

Grow your own mushrooms with our inoculated logs

What better way to celebrate the first full day of Spring than inoculating some locally harvested oak with medicinal and edible mushrooms! These one foot Red Reishi, Shiitake and Turkey Tail mushroom logs from Half Hill Farm are available for local pick up ($22) or ordering online if you live outside the area. We accept most major credit cards. Call 615-469-7778 for pick up.

Each log comes with instructions on how to care for your log to ensure it produces for many years to come. You can expect between 50% – 90% of the log’s weight in mushrooms over the years depending on the variety and proper care.

We also offer spawn pegs in 100 count units to inoculate your own logs. These are $12 per unit (100 will inoculate roughly three 4 feet logs) and are created from our cultivated spawn in the farm’s Shroomery lab. 500 or more are $10 per unit. These also come with basic instructions. Check out our other products for the more advanced mushroom grower.

Workshops: We do Spring and Fall workshops for small groups up to four people by appointment. You’ll learn all the basics in a quiet rural farm setting 12 miles East of Murfreesboro, TN and take home the log you inoculate.

RECIPE: Red Reishi and Turkey Tail mushroom extracts


2 1/2 quarts of Red Reishi extract made at Half Hill Farm. Purchase our 1:1 dual extracts.

Red Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) and Turkey Tail (Trametes Versicolor) mushrooms have been widely known for their medicinal value for centuries. Today, new studies reveal anti-cancer and anti-viral properties of high concentrations of polysaccharide K (PSK – an approved cancer drug) and lesser studied triterpenoids in both mushrooms. Last year, the FDA approved a $5 million study focusing on use of Turkey Tail PSK adjunctive treatment for stage four colon and lung cancers after promising results from an NIH study on breast cancer patients.

Many people mistake these two particular mushrooms as edible. Some websites actually prescribe so many grams of these dried mushrooms. The fact is, you cannot fully digest these medicinal mushrooms. The protein-bound polysaccharides can only be extracted through a several hour decoction process while triterpenoids typically are extracted over several days in an alcohol solution. You certainly won’t die eating these mushrooms, but the best way to realize the full health benefits is to create a single or dual extract.

SINGLE EXTRACT (DECOCTION): A typical decoction is a 1 oz of dry mushroom to 1 cup of water. A single decoction will extract water solubles such as polysaccaharide K (PSK) and beneficial polypeptides (PSP).

  • 1 oz dried Red Reishi or dried Turkey Tail mushrooms
  • 2 cups of distilled or purified water

Take 1 oz. of the mushroom of your choice and place them in 2 cups of water. If you are using Reishi you will need to chop it up as close to 1 inch squares as you can. You can break it up into small pieces. Boil for 3-4 hours, reduce to between a light boil and simmer after the first 30 minutes. At the end, remove the mushrooms. You will then want to filter out any pieces of mushrooms. Your two cups should have reduced to close to a cup, including whatever you can squeeze out of your mushrooms.

Jar and store in the fridge for about 1 week before discarding. Take 2-6 teaspoons twice daily. Reishi is very bitter and best in coffee or soup broths.

DUAL EXTRACT: To extract antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral triterpenoids and other medicinal compounds present in the fruit body of the mushrooms, you will need to take the mushrooms from the first process and place them in a high proof alcohol for a month and blend them using proofing formulas.

OTHER USES: Our first use for these extracts is 1 tablespoon in 16 oz. soup servings we are making for Vince’s mother who was recently diagnosed at age 72 with stage IV lung cancer.

You can put 2 teaspoons of either extract in coffee and tea, or slightly more in soup, stews, or water you use to cook things like rice or even larger recipes calling for fluids.

WHERE TO GET: Growing your own medicinal mushrooms and following the steps above is the most affordable way to get extracts. We offer 1 foot logs inoculated with either mushrooms through our online store or larger logs for pick up at our farm in Woodbury, TN. This is the most economical way to grow your own. It takes several months for the logs to fruit and will produce seasonally for 3-5 years.

PURCHASE NOW: Our farm makes quality dual extracts of both Turkey Tail and Red Reishi mushrooms using distilled water and USDA certified organic alcohol (USP). Buy our Turkey Tail or Red Reishi extracts online.

Ganoderma Lucidum dual extract

Research on Turkey Tail (Trametes Versicolor) mushrooms

Research on Red Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) mushrooms

DISCLAIMER: I am a farmer. I am not a doctor. Please consult your physician before using any of our products for health purposes. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Our products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Turkey Tail mushrooms and our personal fight against cancer

Trametes Versicolor growing on a down tree at Half Hill Farm.

Just before Thanksgiving, Vince’s mother Sandy went to the hospital with what was believed to be pneumonia. It was determined after a few restless days of testing that she had stage IV non-small cell lung cancer and was quickly put on chemotherapy.

The diagnosis was abrupt and shocking. At 71 years of age, the prognosis is also very uncertain. Despite this, Sandy takes one day at a time with lots of family support, focused treatment and hopefully a little extra help from our own backyard.

Sandy’s primary treatment is carboplatin with thoracentesis as needed to remove a build up of fluid outside her lungs caused by the cancer. After speaking with her oncologist about our research into mushrooms, Vince convinced his mom to take a twice daily dose of Turkey Tail mushrooms (Trametes or Coriolus Versicolor) starting with her first treatment.

Turkey Tails are a common mushroom that grows throughout the woods of Tennessee and all over the world. Our interest in the science behind the anti-viral and anti-cancer properties of Turkey Tails began shortly after seeing preliminary clinical trial results and an anecdotal story in a TED lecture last year by mycologist Paul Stamets. In the last two minutes of the speech, Stamets described his 84 year old mother’s successful fight against stage IV breast cancer that included taking Turkey Tail mushrooms. She was a deeply religious person who hadn’t been to the doctor since 1968. According to Stamets, it was the second worst case of stage IV breast cancer her doctor had ever seen, and she was given three months to live. She’s now cancer free.

The early clinical trial data and Paul’s hopeful story resonated, and Vince didn’t hesitate to start his mother on Turkey Tails. At the same time, we began cultivating this amazing mushroom on our farm with a deeper sense of purpose.

We realize mushrooms aren’t a cure for cancer. Less is known about effects of Turkey Tails on stage IV cancers, but we know it will be the very best way we can help her body heal naturally with virtually no side effects or interference with her primary treatment. Below is some of the science behind how Turkey Tails (used with chemo or radiation) significantly enhance the body’s natural defense against cancer cells and extend disease free survival.

Research: New studies of Turkey Tails here in the U.S. are focused on the mushroom’s high percentage of protein bound polysaccharide (PSK) concentrations and how they help the body fight cancer cells.

Given these results, why aren’t Turkey Tail mushrooms a common adjunct therapy in the United States? What we discovered is using Turkey Tails is still viewed as an alternative medicine by most professional health care providers in the U.S.. Due to its widely known medicinal properties, its use in medicine cannot be patented which limits its commercial appeal for major drug companies. That often leaves finding and researching this treatment option up to patients. That may soon change thanks to new government-funded clinical trial research from the National Institute of Health’s Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM).

How to take Turkey Tail mushrooms: The most popular way to take Turkey Tail mushrooms is in a capsule, but the body has a hard time digesting the mushroom’s tough chitinous cellular structure (which is why you don’t see recipes for eating it). Capsules are easy to manufacture using ground mycelium grown on rice or grain. The best way to realize the full spectrum of benefits is by taking a decoction (a lengthy hot water extraction to concentrate water soluble polysaccharides and other beneficial compounds). Tinctures are alcohol extractions of adaptogenic triterpenoids. The better quality extract blends both the decoction and tincture in a dual extraction. Capsules that simply grind this mushroom into powder are not extracts and can contain ground up rice used to grow the mycelium. In keeping with our mission, we’ve created a Turkey Tail mushroom dual extract using USDA certified organic mushrooms grown on our farm, USDA certified organic USP alcohol (pharmaceutical grade) and distilled water. Click here to buy our Turkey Tail, Red Reishi, Chaga, or Lion’s Mane mushroom extracts online.

Read more on Half Hill Farm’s mushroom dual extracts:

See more of our products we’ve developed and that have been used successfully by customers since this post:

DISCLAIMER: Please consult your physician before using any of our products for health purposes. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Our products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Searching for wild ‘Hen of the Woods’ mushrooms in Tennessee

As you enjoy the beautiful colors of Fall this year you may notice several varieties of wild mushrooms growing at the base of some large hardwood trees in Tennessee. One mushroom in particular we need your help finding is called “Hen of the Woods,” or Maitake (Grifola Frondosa).

If you find one of these beautiful native mushrooms, and you live within about 75-100 miles of our organic farm in Woodbury, TN, we’d love to come visit and take tissue samples to replicate in our farm’s mushroom lab.

What to look for: The huge 9 lbs. Maitake pictured here was found on our property October 22, 2012 at the base of a large oak tree. You can find them either at the base of oaks and other hardwoods or running along large surface roots fanning out from the tree. They usually return year after year (learn more).

What we’ll do: we will bring a small lab kit to sample the tissue, replicate the mycelium in a petri dish and then spawn the culture samples into various growth mediums including sawdust and pegs for logs. If you find one, call us at 615-469-7778. We will only positively identify this variety of mushroom in person, but close-up photos emailed to us can help us decide whether to make the trip.

If you are interested in growing your own Shiitake or Maitake mushrooms on logs at home, send us a short message to receive future notifications on scheduled workshops or availability of spawn pegs and inoculated logs from Half Hill Farm.

Read more: Paul Stammets has a nice article that includes excellent research on Maitake mushrooms and its medicinal value, in particular for Type 2 Diabetes. Below is the nutritional value of Maitake mushrooms excerpted from the article.

  • 377 calories per 100 grams dry weight
  • 25 percent protein
  • 3-4 percent fats (1 percent polyunsaturated fat; 2 percent total unsaturated fat; 0.3 percent saturated fat)
  • ≈60 percent carbohydrates (41 percent are complex carbohydrates)
  • ≈28 percent fiber
  • 0 percent cholesterol
  • B vitamins (mg/100 g): niacin (64.8); riboflavin (2.6 mg); and pantheonic acid (4.4 mg)
  • High concentration of potassium: 2,300 mg/100 g (or 2.3 percent of dry mass!)

Organic mushroom production begins at Half Hill Farm

Today is the first day of Fall and the official start of our organic Shiitake and Maitake mushroom production at Half Hill Farm!

This Summer we began working with a couple of local mills to source high quality organic wheat bran and hardwood sawdust for our indoor mushroom grow operation. Maitake jars (Hen of the Woods) and Shiitake blocks start in the Shroomery this weekend. Yesterday, we inoculated about 60 white oak logs we got when Mr. Logan had to take an old tree down after a bad storm.

Everything about growing mushrooms feels right. While producing a food with near magical health benefits, we are also sequestering larger volumes of carbon from felled trees into our soil through compost creating a multi-threaded sustainable loop that increases the health of our soil, our food and ultimately our planet.

Availability: It will take a few weeks before the first mushrooms appear, and you know we’ll post results along the way on Facebook like doting parents.

Our organic mushrooms will be available fresh by the pound to individuals or local restaurants or dry by the ounce online. Starting next year, we’ll host workshops and make fully inoculated logs, blocks and jars for folks wanting to grow their own mushrooms at home.

Using mycorrhizal fungi in organic farming

One of the most important organic cultural practices I use on the farm is inoculating crops with mycorrhizal fungi. The photo above shows an application on one of 100 organic hop rhizomes we just planted. The symbiotic relationship between this fungus and plant roots is essential for healthy soil and plants. It’s also the secret that all of the current world record pumpkin growers don’t want you to know.

There are a couple types of mycorrhizal fungi. Endomycorrhiza work with certain plants by attaching to the root intracellularly while ectomycorrhiza work extracelluarly. Here is a good resource to find out which mycorrhiza you need for various plants and trees.

How it works: The fungi is naturally occurring in healthy soil all over the world. The largest living organism on the planet is a 2,400 year old 2,200 acre mycelial mat discovered in August 2000 in Oregon’s Malheur National Forest. Mycorrhizae are the very life of our planet’s soil creating a network of microbial life that naturally mitigates disease, nutrition and water concerns in the cultivation of crops. Mycorrhizae reduce the use of tilling, irrigation and chemical inputs in aggriculture. It also helps sequester carbon and is a key environmental relationship in our survival on the planet. Many organic farmers who use mycorrhizal fungi never have to water their crops even during drought. You can see several of these side-by-side comparisons pictured here online that illustrate exactly why.

Conventional farming methods using chemical fertilizers, pesticides and tilling are slowly destroying this natural relationship in favor of predictable short-term outcomes from dependence on expensive inputs that often hide destructive and unsustainable results.

Perfect design: Mycorrhizae are basically a mushroom (mycelium) that feeds off the plant’s sugars through its root system. What the fungus does in return for plants is truely amazing: it takes nutrients and water from the soil and feeds the plant by becoming a huge network of extended roots. The fungi is also what breaks down rocks and minerals for plants. It also makes plants more drought resistant as their access to soil moisture is more than ten times that of non-inoculated plants. One application to roots during transplanting or seeding lasts the entire life of the plant, and the results are indisputable.

There is a lot of simple research showing plants do much better using mycorrhizae than using conventional fertilizers. Here is a 6th grader’s science fair project using Fungi Perfecti’s MycoGrow (what we use at Half hill Farm) to show you how simple this is to understand.

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