FireRoot Apple Cider Vinegar Tonic – the troll chaser


Half Hill Farm’s FireRoot Apple Cider VInegar Tonic – the troll chaser

Our small organic apple orchard here in Woodbury, TN will never produce enough apples for market, but with a little help it will be enough to make some amazing apple cider vinegar tonics!

A famous example that inspired our farm’s first seasonal apple cider vinegar tonic is Rosemary Gladstar’s recipe for Fire Cider. We call our tonic FireRoot, a spicy decoction of certified organic horseradish, onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, orange, lemon, cayenne and black pepper in organic apple cider vinegar & mother lightly sweetened with local honey.

Half Hill Farm’s FireRoot apple cider vinegar tonic is just one way our farm honors traditional folk remedies. Each ounce of prevention will chase your trolls and light a fire under whatever’s thrown your way. FireRoot is available in both 8 oz and 16 oz bottles online or in our retail store in the Arts Center of Cannon County starting Thursday February 2.

Better health and well being
Apple cider vinegar has been used for centuries as a natural folk remedy for indigestion and a host of ailments. Research shows daily use of 1-2 tbsps naturally lowers morning blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, dramatically lowers mealtime glycemic levels associated with chronic diseases, helps people lose weight and may satiate appetite. There is some evidence showing anti-cancer properties, but the mechanism is not well understood. Less is known about widely reported uses as a cold and flu prevention, but it is suspected that apple cider vinegar’s alkalizing affects in the body helps prevent cold & flu. Using apple cider vinegar to decoct ingredients like garlic, ginger, and turmeric certainly helps increase the tonic’s antimicrobial and antiviral potential.*

To make FireRoot, our farm starts with all organic ingredients and unpasteurized apple cider vinegar that contains the mother, the naturally occurring probiotic yeast and bacteria that ferments the cider into vinegar. This will appear as a light sediment, so shake well to get all the botanical goodness in every serving!

How to use FireRoot Apple Cider Vinegar Tonic
If you’re a fan of bold flavor, take a tablespoon of FireRoot every day before or after your biggest meal. By using FireRoot with food, you can also lower your intake of salt and fat. Here are a few suggested uses below. Check back for recipes using FireRoot!

  • Blend FireRoot with flax oil or coconut oil to make an amazing salad dressing!
  • Spice up your chutney recipe by replacing the vinegar with FireRoot.
  • Use FireRoot in place of butter or salt on steamed vegetables or beans or blend into marinades for meats.
  • Blend with Bragg’s, sesame oil, and lemon juice to make a tangy dumpling sauce.

FireRoot is our farm’s first seasonal tonic release this year. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram to learn when other tonics will be available.

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

UPDATE: Half Hill Farm’s Bee Sanctuary Project

Vince and I set up our first chemical free habitat for #Tennessee native solitary #bees between our blueberries and apple trees. This is part of our ongoing Bee Sanctuary Project at Half Hill Farm.

This first structure is 6 feet tall (8 feet counting the stone base) and is made from 8 inch sections of old downed trees on the farm, bamboo from a friend and neighbor and locally milled pine and cedar.

As we were filling the bottom section, a solitary leafcutter bee kept inspecting the whole thing, and it was such a joy to witness. Last year, we noticed our top pollinators weren’t honey bees. They were native solitary orchard masons and leafcutters. Honey bees didn’t show up until very late in the season and frantically scavenged the last of the organic Genovese Basil flowers.

One of the many ways we can help solve the problems we’ve created within honey bee colonies is to rely more on our native diversity of bees and other pollinators. The way we have treated honey bees within massive monocultures in conventional farming is an ongoing lesson in the mismanagement of our natural resources. Be a part of the solution and start a Bee Sanctuary of your own!

Resources to get you started:

UPDATE 4-22-14: Here’s one of a few solitary orchard mason bees taking up residence in our native bee condo this Spring. They’ve been working some of the apple blossoms that made it through the recent Dogwood Winter frost.

Purple Martins are nature’s bug zappers

purple martin housePart of our organic farm’s integrated pest management plan calls for the use of hosted beneficial birds as natural predators. Earlier this week I asked a couple of friends and folks at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) for some advice and was reminded about the amazing Purple Martin.

Growing up in the South, I remember Purple Martin houses on several farms. I never really thought there was a functional reason for hosting them, and later was convinced all they ate were mosquitoes.

I was wrong. State Zoologist David Withers sent me this great one pager from the Purple Martin Conservation Association that basically tells me the Purple Martin is one of nature’s best bug zappers. Check out TWRA’s wonderful online resource on common birds and how to host them.

Even if you are not an organic farmer, hosting Purple Martins can dramatically help reduce any flying insect pest on your property while reducing the use of chemical sprays and inviting a little of nature’s perfect aesthetic back to your home life.

We got two 16 family houses, both made in America, at our local Tractor Supply Company (photo: Vince snaps a Purple Martin house together). We’re using cut cedar posts from the property and will open the houses March 31 or as close to the time we begin seeing younger Purple Martins.

Here are a few points we’ve learned through some voracious reading over the past couple of snow days:

  • Purple Martins overwinter in Brazil and return year after year to the same nesting location.
  • They live exclusively in human made housing (East of the Rocky Mountains)
  • Houses must be over 10 feet off the ground, a minimum of 30 feet from a human dwelling (120 feet maximum), about 45 feet from any tree or bush and have nothing touching the pole, including support wires. Nothing around the housing can be taller.
  • Entry holes must be a specific dimension or competing birds become a problem (3 inches wide and 1 3/16 tall).
  • Purple Martins prefer white colored housing.
  • To attract a colony you must open the house when last year’s young return – 3 weeks after the first adults arrive. In Tennessee, adults arrive March 1-15. Adults will also colonize, but you must be persistent to scare off competing birds.
  • Purple Martins diet includes “dragonflies, damselflies, flies, midges, mayflies, stinkbugs, leafhoppers, Japanese beetles, June bugs, butterflies, moths, grasshoppers, cicadas, bees, wasps, flying ants, and ballooning spiders.”
  • Once hatched, Purple martins develop in about 30 days.
  • You can handle the chicks to manage the nests – parents do not mind human handling or scent.