THANK YOU: a new year together

2015 was an incredibly rewarding year! We served hundreds of customers with a level of quality and care we want to see in the world, and that made usfriends all over the United States with humbling stories of lives forever changed and a praise that tells us we are on the right path. It’s what focusing on quality will do, and we can’t wait to give it back ten times more in 2016!

Kombucha fermentation tanks arrive for farm brewery

Kombucha fermentation tanks

The delivery guy knew the exact location of the only loading dock I could borrow in town, even though it really has no address. It’s a small town, but the driver had been here before delivering freight to Short Mountain Distillery. When he saw the tanks, he knew what was up. 

“Someone’s about to do some serious brewing in Woodbury,” he said with a smile. It’s certainly a first big step in starting our farm’s brewery and churning out some organic fermented goodness!

These 58 gallon (220 Liter) stainless steel fermentation tanks ought to help us brew a lot more kombucha, vinegars and other things to come, but we’re definitely going to need some bigger space to do it right.

Blueberry Ginger Kombucha Apple Ginger Kombucha

The kitchen is full of bottles. The living room is full of bottles, and the quiet is broken by the low hum of a small fridge full of more fizzy booch! There is a home somewhere underneath it all. This year we made a lot of kombucha and shared some with neighbors. We love what it does for our health, and we can’t wait to share it with you!

kombucha bottling day kombucha brewing

Follow us on Facebook to watch our brewery grow and to learn when, where and how you can enjoy our kombucha products!

Brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients show signs of fungal infection

A study published in this month’s Scientific Reports by Spanish scientists has found a strong link between Alzheimer’s disease and fungal infection. The report could lead to early anti-fungal treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and illustrates a growing understanding of how fungal, bacterial and viral infections relate to disease.

The study found that all brain samples identified as belonging to patients with Alzheimer’s disease had signs of fungal infection in their neurons. The study does not answer whether the fungal infections caused the Alzheimer’s disease or whether the disease itself made the patients more susceptible to fungal infections by compromising the blood-brain barrier protecting tissue from pathogens.

The Spanish study may lead to a closer look at recent findings by British researchers who found beta amyloid plaques of tangled neurons in Alzheimer’s disease patients are transmitted through medical procedures. It may be that a fungal cause for beta amyloid is the actual culprit in the studied human transmission. Fingings from a U.C. Davis study published in Cell Host and Microbe found that beta amyloids in Alzhemier’s disease trigger the same inflammatory immune response as amyloids created by bacterial biofilm.

Mushroom supplements: While there are no specific treatments for fungal infections recently discovered in tangled nuerons of Alzheimer’s patients, scientists are finding promise in studies of extracted compounds from the Red Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) that could later be used as compounded medicines or natural supplement treatments of Alzheimer’s and other amyloid related disease.

A study in Brain Research showed the use of liquid extracts of Red Reishi mushroom may prevent harmful neurodegenerative effects of toxins on the brain’s synaptic density proteins by exterminating toxic beta amyloids. A follow-up study indicates these liquid mushroom extracts could reduce beta amyloid-induced neurotoxicity as a natural supplement treatment. Red Reishi is already shown to alter the balance of gut bacteria that create biofilms and resulting amyloids.

Red Reishi is widely known & studied for its anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory effects and continues to demonstrate wide uses as a natural anti-aging supplement.

Available now: Half Hill Farm makes a high quality dual liquid extract of the Red Reishi mushroom. We make it with USDA certified organic Red Reishi mushrooms, USDA certified organic pharmaceutical grade alcohol (USP) and distilled water.

UPDATE 03-09-16: Since this report was published, scientists and researchers have joined draw more attention to these findings and published this report in Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease just yesterday identifying the viral, bacterial and fungal infections.

We are researchers and clinicians working on Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or related topics, and we write to express our concern that one particular aspect of the disease has been neglected, even though treatment based on it might slow or arrest AD progression. We refer to the many studies, mainly on humans, implicating specific microbes in the elderly brain, notably herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1), Chlamydia pneumoniae, and several types of spirochaete, in the etiology of AD. Fungal infection of AD brain [5, 6] has also been described, as well as abnormal microbiota in AD patient blood. The first observations of HSV1 in AD brain were reported almost three decades ago]. The ever-increasing number of these studies (now about 100 on HSV1 alone) warrants re-evaluation of the infection and AD concept.

Many studies show a direct anti-viral effect of liquid Red Reishi extract (Ganoderma lucidum) on HSV-1. Several reports show anti-bacterial effects on Chlamydia pneumoniae, a bacertia not only associated with Alzheimer’s, but also thought to be a casal factor in Multiple sclerosis, Asthma, Chronic fatigue, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Fibromyalgia, Interstitial cystitis, and Crohn’s disease.
NOTICE: 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. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Bees use mushroom fungus to protect colony

Honey bees make a quick pharmacy stop on our farm’s used Turkey Tail mushrooms (March 2015).

Last year, I noticed honey bees coming and going from our compost bin of organic mushrooms we use to make extracts and thought I had a swarm problem. On closer look, I discovered they were nibbling on our used mushrooms and then flying away.

Understanding that bees eat pollen and nectar, I suspected they were up to something entirely different. I suspected they were self-medicating on residual compounds found on Turkey Tail (Trametes Versicolor) and Red Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) mushrooms left over from our extraction process.

As scientists are now discovering, that may very well be the case. A scientist at the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation recently discovered that the Brazilian stingless bee uses fungus to protect larvae food stores from spoiling.

He and his team discovered that the fungus is a key part of the hive. It permeates the cerumen, a material made of wax and resin that the bees use as building material. After the bees have deposited regurgitated food for the larvae inside the cells, and laid an egg, the fungus starts growing.

Once the egg hatches, the larva feeds on the fungus, and it turns out this food is absolutely crucial. When the team tried to grow the bees in the lab without the fungus, the survival rate of the larvae dropped dramatically – from 72 per cent to just 8 per cent.

This Summer, self-taught mycologist Paul Stamets began working with Steve Sheppard, a bee expert at Washington State University, to test various wood decaying mushrooms on honey bees. They are finding promising results that could lead to ways of treating colonies for parasitic mites and other infections at the heart of troubling colony collapse disorder.

As other scientists are now discovering what I also observed, it may be that bees are already doing it themselves. Understanding what they are doing and why could help us understand more about the medicinal value of mushrooms and lead to both a re-evaluation of our use of fungicides and important life-saving discoveries for humans as well as bees.

Available now: You don’t have to be a bee-in-the-know to take advantage of these important mushrooms. Half Hill Farm makes organic mushroom extracts with USDA certified organic mushrooms, USDA certified organic pharmaceutical grade USP alcohol, and distilled water.

Read several studies showing what scientists are discovering about extracts of these mushrooms and what they can do now for your better health & well-being.

Red Reishi extract reverses obesity by altering gut bacteria

A new study of liquid dual extracts of Red Reishi mushrooms (Ganoderma Lucidum) published this Summer shows a reversal of obesity related symptoms by altering the balance of good and bad gut bacteria.

“Mice kept on a high-fat diet gained up to 25 percent more than mice kept on the same diet with extracts from the Reishi mushroom,” said David Ojcius, a microbiologist at the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry in San Francisco who participated in the study, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications. Consumption of Reishi mushroom extract with high-fat food prevented the development of fat tissue, gut inflammation and buildup of harmful bacteria in the bloodstream — all symptoms of obesity in both mice and humans.

The study also shows an adaptogenic effect, meaning the liquid mushroom extracts slimmed down overweight mice only, not mice with healthy weights. Prebiotic uses of this medicinal fungi builds on research that increasingly points to a balance of gut bacteria addressing overall health and well-being, including obesity.

An early hint that gut microbes might play a role in obesity came from studies comparing intestinal bacteria in obese and lean individuals. In studies of twins who were both lean or both obese, researchers found that the gut community in lean people was like a rain forest brimming with many species but that the community in obese people was less diverse—more like a nutrient-overloaded pond where relatively few species dominate.

Nature’s Remedy: Half Hill Farm has created a high quality Red Reishi dual extract using USDA certified organic ganoderma lucidum, USDA certified organic USP pharmaceutical-grade alcohol and distilled water. You can purchase our Red Reishi Mushroom Dual Extract in 100 ml (3.38 oz.) or 200 ml (6.76 oz.) bottles.

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. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. 

Half Hill Farm among Tennessee’s first to grow hemp

Industrial hemp grows on Half Hill Farm in Woodbury, TN

(Woodbury, TN) — Half Hill Farm is the first USDA certified organic farm in Tennessee to grow legal hemp. The state legalized hemp last year despite decades of federal prohibition under the Controlled Substance Act. Growing hemp requires a background check and permit from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.

Half Hill Farm grows several hundred plants in a pilot partnership with a co-op of farms under Tennessee Hemp Farm. Using various farm methods, participating farms hope to learn how much seed and fiber production they can expect from a plant not grown legally in the United States since the 1950s.

“My guess is hemp will grow just fine here in Cannon County,” said Half Hill Farm’s Christian Grantham. “The exciting part for us is what can be done with it.”

While industrial hemp contains little to none of the psychoactive ingredient THC, hemp seeds produce the highest omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids of any grain. Milled seed is an excellent source of oil and plant protein, and hemp is one of the world’s most renewable sources of industrial fiber.

“It won’t be long before you start seeing several Tennessee products made with hemp grown and processed right here,” Grantham said. ”As part of our farm’s mission, we can’t wait to share the health benefits of hemp through value added products.”

In the mid 1800s, Tennessee farms reported growing over 2,200 tons of cannabis using it to make rope and industrial canvas used in boat sails and to bag cotton harvests. According to state records, production fell with competition from other states.

Growing commercial hemp is still illegal under federal law. Permitted farms in Tennessee work closely with state and federal authorities under new farm rules for states that legalize hemp or recreational & medical marijuana.

Under state law, farms growing hemp can sell hemp fiber or viable hemp seed to a manufacturer and value added products direct to consumers. The first hemp crops in Tennessee will harvest in late September.

Learn more:

Nature’s remedy: organic Red Reishi mushroom dual extract

Ganoderma Lucidum dual extract

Half Hill Farm is dedicated to sustainable farm practices that reflect our deep commitment to being good stewards of our planet and our general well being.

In keeping with our mission, our organic Red Reishi Mushroom Dual Extracts are now made with USDA certified organic pharmaceutical grade (USP) alcohol. We use a hot water and alcohol extraction process with a 10 micron filtration and bottle at our Woodbury, TN farm in premium Miron ultra-violet glass bottles. Combined with our USDA certified organic Ganoderma lucidum mushrooms and distilled water, our extract provides a full spectrum of beneficial compounds as clean as nature intended.

Red Reishi mushrooms are known in ancient medicine as the “Mushroom of Immortality” used in a wide range of folk remedies. Recent studies find extracted polysaccharides, triterpenes and other compounds from this mushroom have significant anti-tumor, anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties as well as the ability to reduce inflammation and modulate immune responses.

This powerful extract has a natural bitter taste that blends well with coffee or tea. We use a 10 micron filtration that keeps smaller spore and beneficial compounds that appear as suspended filaments in the bottled extract.

Many people prescribed long-term medications or antibiotics, or with chronic illnesses, use this extract in conjunction with or as an alternative to treatments. Often taken in tea or coffee, this extract is also used as natural remedies for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, hypertension, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and conditions associated with: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Lyme Disease, Morgellons, Babesia, Bartonella, Ehrlichia, Mycoplasma, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and AIDS/HIV.

Here are links to some research on extracted compounds from Red Reishi (Ganoderma Lucidum) mushrooms:

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. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. 

RECIPE: Shiitake mushroom soup


A 5 lbs. mid-Winter harvest of organic Shiitake mushrooms from Half Hill Farm.

Once your Shiitake logs from Half Hill Farm start producing mushrooms, you can dry them, store some in the fridge for a couple weeks, or eat them! That’s exactly what we did using the following recipe and an unexpected January harvest.

There’s a lot you can do with your Shiitake mushrooms and a lot of good stuff it will do for you. One recent study, for example, shows medicinal compounds in Shiitake mushrooms can eradicate HPV, a virus that causes 99% of all cervical cancer, 95% of anal cancer, 60% of oropharyngeal cancer, 65% of vaginal cancer, 50% of vulvar cancer, and 35% of penile cancer. Here’s more research on this and other mushrooms we grow, and here’s our recipe for how to make some Pho-tastic Shiitake mushroom soup.

Shiitake Mushroom Soup

  • 2 cups chopped Shiitake mushrooms
  • cubed tofu
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 4 tbsps of fresh grated ginger
  • chives
  • cilantro
  • 4 cups chopped Napa cabbage
  • rice noodles (or rice & quinoa)
  • 8 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
  • soy sauce (or Bragg’s) & lemon to flavor

You can use either rice noodles or a little rice and quinoa. Either way, cook these first and set them aside. You won’t need much – about a total of half a cup if using rice/quinoa.

Put a little olive oil in the soup pot you plan to use and cook your cubed tofu. When complete, stir-fry the chopped garlic cloves and ginger with the cooked tofu. This takes a couple minutes. Now add the broth, mushrooms and either noodles or rice/quinoa. Let this simmer for 20 minutes and then add the Napa cabbage and let simmer for five more minutes before serving.

Place a little chopped cilantro and chives in a bowl and fill the bowl with soup. Add a generous squirt of soy sauce or Bragg’s and a squeeze of a couple lemon wedges and enjoy!

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.