How to watch the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse in Middle Tennessee


Trudy Capootie quality checks the Solar Eclipse viewers at Half Hill Farm.

On Monday, August 21, 2017 at 12:29 p.m., a total solar eclipse will pass almost directly over Woodbury, TN and last a whole 1 minute and 47 seconds. The partial eclipse will begin 11 a.m. and end at 1:55 p.m. It’s a once in a lifetime event for most people, and a swath of America will share this celestial event with us.

In a time when shared experiences are increasingly rare, the solar eclipse can bring together millions of people at the same time to marvel at the universal precision and geometry of something greater than us. If the weather is good, you will likely want to look up and share in the experience yourself.

FREE Solar Eclipse Glasses: We’re giving away solar eclipse viewers that you see Trudy modeling above. They are yours free with any purchase at our store in the Arts Center of Cannon County while they last. These viewers are ISO compliant for direct observation of the Sun – and they were made right here in Tennessee!

When and Where to view the 2017 Solar Eclipse: Click the map below to see NASA’s interactive 2017 solar eclipse viewer. Once loaded, click the map to see instant calculations for that point on the map.Here are a few local events you may want to consider:

Fighting your cold and flu with Elderberry Tonic


Half Hill Farm’s Elderberry Tonic

Happy Summer Solstice 2017! To celebrate this longest day of the year, we’d like to introduce you to our new Elderberry Tonic! This is tonic number 2 in a series that started earlier this year with FireRoot. You can now purchase both at our store in Woodbury, TN (click for map) or online.

Elderberries have been used for centuries as a remedy for flu and respiratory infections and is one of the most used medicinal plants worldwide. The reason you can find elderberry formulations among your local drug store’s cold & flu medications is because it’s a natural remedy that works.

Cold & Flu: In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in Norway, 60 patients aged 18-54 suffering from influenza-like symptoms for 48 hours or less were given elderberry or placebo syrup four times a day for five days. Flu symptoms were relieved on average 4 days earlier in those receiving elderberry extract. Elderberries have been shown to be effective against influenza A & B as well as herpes simplex. In another study, the flavonoid-rich elderberry was shown to prevent H1N1 flu infection.

Better Health: Elderberries and elder flowers have many other uses. Extracts of elderberries can reduce blood pressure and may help reduce cholesterol. Many studies also demonstrate reductions in oxidative stress that can lead to many diseases including cancer.

Combined with the benefits of apple cider vinegar, local honey, echinacea and the bold flavor of ayurvedic ginger, cardamom and clove, our Elderberry Tonic is the perfect protective remedy.*

How To Use Elderberry Tonic: Before using our tonic for health reasons, please consult your doctor. You can take our tonic by the tablespoon three times a day as needed.

  • You can also create some amazing shrubs by adding 2 teaspoons per 8 oz serving of soda water.
  • Blend two tablespoons with one tablespoon of flax or coconut oil to make a tart vinaigrette for salads.
  • If you have to have a bowl of vanilla ice-cream, drizzling at least a tablespoon on top can help ease your guilt.
  • Add a couple ounces to Bourbon or moonshine for Elderberry Sours

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Always consult with your physician before using our products. 

Half Hill Farm opens retail store in Woodbury


Half Hill Farm’s Apple Ginger Kombucha hanging out in the Stones River.

Come and get you a half gallon growler of our organic Apple Ginger Kombucha starting this Saturday April 30, 2016 at our new retail store in the Arts Center of Cannon County (here’s a map)! We’ll be open Saturdays at 9 am so you can get your $5 growler refilled for $10.

Kombucha is organic sweet tea fermented and carbonated with yeast and probiotics and flavored with organic juices. This raw, vegan, live culture food detoxifies, helps with digestion, and helps keep blood sugar levels in check. It’s just one way we’re looking out for your health & well being.

This Saturday’s opening will also feature over a dozen Middle Tennessee jewelry makers in the 2016 Jewelry Showcase, selling a wide selection of hand-crafted silver, copper, leather, stone, and beaded jewelry – perfect gifts for Mom!

Every Saturday, we will also have our Nature’s Remedy line of mushroom dual extracts featuring the immune boosting power of the Red Reishi, Chaga and Turkey Tail mushrooms. You can also pick up some fresh made tempeh from our partners at Short Mountain Cultures and enjoy crafts from the art and soul of Tennessee!

Organic farm starts kombucha brewery in Woodbury

(Woodbury, TN)  -  Half Hill Farm is opening a kombucha brewery in the Arts Center of Cannon County. The USDA certified organic farm will sell 16 oz. bottles and fill half gallon growlers of the carbonated beverage on site with both sizes available in local stores and restaurants.

The organic mushroom extract maker will team up with tempeh maker Short Mountain Cultures to work collectively as The Kitchen @ the Arts Center starting January 1. The collaboration will bring locally handcrafted fermented food & beverages to Middle Tennessee.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to share our handcrafted organic kombucha and everything we make together. It’s awesome,” said Half Hill Farm co-owner Vince Oropesa. “And it’s completely solar powered. How cool is that!” Oropesa added pointing to the Arts Center’s 30 KW solar panel system.

Half Hill Farm will also make live kombucha culture food products and barrel-aged kombucha vinegar. The farm will also expand its mushroom extracts to include Chaga, Lion’s Mane and other certified organic mushrooms.

Kombucha is sweet tea fermented with special yeast and probiotics into a carbonated beverage often flavored with fruits, vegetables, roots, or herbs. The craft of brewing and fermenting kombucha with a SCOBY (a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) is thousands of years old.

“Making these craft products at The Kitchen with like-minded partners feels right,” Half Hill Farm co-owner Christian Grantham said. “It’s the right people, the right place and the right time to revive a sustainable food culture that has lasted centuries.”


Apple Ginger Kombucha samples don’t last long on the farm.

Follow us for more information: A grand opening date for The Kitchen has not yet been announced. You can follow Half Hill Farm on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for more information.

Photo (left to right): Vince Oropesa, Christian Grantham, Simmer Tidman, John Parker

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!

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:

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.

RECIPE: Cherokee Kenuche Ball – Hickory Nut Soup

We have a few mature Shaggy Bark Hickory trees on the property at Half Hill Farm that cover the ground each Fall with lots of nut husks. The nut is viewed as the best of America’s Hickory trees, and the squirrels here love them.

I was curious if there were any old Native American recipes using the nuts and came across some very obscure references to Cherokee Kenuche balls, ground up Hickory nuts (shell and meat) formed into a fist-sized ball that stores well through the Winter and is used on special occasions in soups by the American Cherokee Tribe. I can imagine many food uses and plan on putting a small grape-sized ball in our coffee maker in the morning.

The aroma of Kenuche is meant to guide the ancestors back to special family gatherings where it is served as a side dish. My guess is that memories of gathering and processing the nuts with older family members who have since passed is how ancestors are connected with this very special dish. After the time consuming process of crushing the nuts earlier today, I imagine this was a task for older family members and children who helped pick out larger shells before crushing them. It’s a beautiful side dish with a rich heritage that I’m guessing has less than 40 references online, including books.

Here is how you can make your own Kenuche. We could only gather about 100 Shaggy Bark Hickory nuts because the squirrels favor this nut over everything else. I crushed each one with a hammer. Half of them were bad, so I ended up with only 50. I picked out the larger shell pieces and left the rest in a bowl. I then took a small mortar & pestle and mashed the shells and meat into an oily paste. It’s OK and easier to leave the shells, and this is how it was traditionally done (but in a large hollowed wooden bowl).

Form the resulting Hickory nut paste into a Kenuche ball using wax paper. I find wax paper keeps the oils in the ball instead of sticking to your hand. Kenuche balls are usually the size of a fist, but ours was the size of a plum. You might need 300-400 nuts for a fist-sized Kenuche ball.

You can store Kenuche in the fridge or freezer until you’re ready to use it. Our ball was about 2 ounces, so I simmered it in a half quart of water for about 30 minutes until the nut meat was dissolved into a creamy sauce. A normal sized Kenuche ball would use about a half a gallon of water. I then strained the creamy broth through a sieve and discarded the small shell pieces and added hominy to the resulting broth. We added mushrooms and let this simmer. You can add venison or pretty much anything (brown sugar and maple syrup will make a sweet version and compliment the nutty flavor), but traditional Kenuche soup is the broth with hominy.

Life is all about having the patience to crack a tough nut to get to the good stuff. If your traditional gatherings are starting to focus more on the hollow and commercial aspects of life, who’s bringing what to the table, try infusing traditions that bring people together and create memories of those who have passed. You just might bring more to the table in a humble bowl of soup than you expected.

Old maps find their way home

Elder Jones went places – Texas, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, California, Massachusetts, Utah, Ohio, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kentucky. He’s an awesome concrete artist and a little bit of an admitted hoarder. He eventually found his way to Readyville, TN where he left a few things from his life travels, including this wonderful box of maps.

I love maps, and I especially love this very personal collection and how practical and necessary a resource it was to someone finding their way in the world. Elder eventually found his way in love and married.

When Nora Robinson bought his place on the Stones River across from the Readyville Mill, she thought enough to keep the maps and a few other things Elder had to leave behind for a new life. She brought the maps over yesterday and warned me that what we were about to do with them was as permanent as concrete.

Half Hill Farm receives USDA organic certification


Organic cilantro awaits a late planting at Half Hill Farm.

(Woodbury, TN) — Half Hill Farm has become one of Cannon County’s first farms to receive USDA organic certification. Half Hill Farm is a small seven acre farm growing certified organic apples and blueberries with mushroom and hop production starting this year.

Half Hill Farm was created by former Short Mountain Distillery COO Christian Grantham and his partner Vince Oropesa and certified by Quality Certification Services of Florida. Grantham hopes the new venture will provide the community with healthier and sustainable food choices.

“Our community’s nationally recognized taste for good food and drink is just one way Woodbury’s craft heritage continues to shine,” Grantham said. “Dedication to inspected organic farm practices is one way I think local farmers can play an important and responsible role in elevating our Southern food culture.”

Recent changes in state law have inspired a craft brewing renaissance in Tennessee with no local growers of hops, beer’s main bittering and aromatic ingredient. Half Hill Farm is proud to serve the state’s craft brewers as Tennessee’s first organic hops grower.

“As a home brewer, I appreciate what it takes to make a good hand-crafted beer,” Grantham said. “We’re excited to support some of the state’s very best craft brewers with sustainable organic Cascade and Centennial hops.”

Organic farming practices focus on sustainable food production methods that condition and improve the life of our planet’s soil while producing healthier food choices. These practices (cover crops, composting, no-till methods) decrease dependence on harmful inputs and energy use while harnessing the power of nature’s perfect design.

“The idea with organic farming is having high quality foods available for local residents, then the excess can be available for out of town markets,” said Pamela Hoskins, District Conservationist with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. “I have always thought that Cannon County is the perfect location for organic growers because of the close proximity to urban areas.”

Shiitake and Maitake (Hen of the Woods) mushroom production at the farm starts later this summer with fresh and dried available in the Fall. Half Hill Farm is also growing limited amounts of organic spinach, garlic, onions, tomatoes (Roma, Giant Beef Steak, Lemon Drop, Kellogg’s Breakfast), peppers (Serrano, Jalapeno, Beaver Dam, Sweet Pickle Peppers, Peperoncini, California Wonder, Orange Bell, Anaheim), herbs (cilantro, basil, dill), cucumber, carrots and soy beans (Shirofumi and Agate).

Learn more about Half Hill Farm on FaceBook at http://facebook.com/HalfHillFarmTN.