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.

Help us build an outhouse and shelter to host workshops


You can help change the way people think about their food and health while reconnecting them to a rural farm experience.

Vince and I started our small seven acre USDA Certified Organic farm in rural Woodbury, Tennessee with a mission to become responsible stewards with our resources and to do something positive with our time and energy. We had no idea just how personal that mission would hit home and have created a unique mushroom extract we want to share as well as show people how to create it at home themselves.

A relative’s recent stage IV cancer diagnosis quickly shifted our attention to growing and producing native Turkey Tail mushrooms used as an adjunct therapy to chemo and radiation treatments. Based on the promising results of NIH research and FDA studies on dosages of polysaccharides (PSK) derived from these mushrooms and MD Anderson Cancer Center’s findings that Active Hexose Correlated Compound (AHCC) present in mushroom extracts may cure HPV, we’ve created both Shiitake, Turkey Tail and Reishi mushroom extracts we believe can help many people.

To help fulfill our farm’s mission, we need your help to open up our farm to visitors for workshops on growing these and other mushrooms and creating life-enhancing extracts, providing pick-your-own harvests of apples, blueberries and hops, and other educational opportunities.

We’ve created an online fundraising campaign to raise $4,500 that will purchase materials (locally harvested and milled cedar and a special composting toilet) needed to build an accessible outhouse and small 10 x 20 shelter to host workshops and guests.

Here is what you get for your contribution:

  • $50 – you will receive a 100 ml 1:1 Reishi Mushroom extract bottled in Miron ultra-violet glass (retail value: $40) and a postcard thank you!
  • $100 – FREE WORKSHOP (retail value: $50) plus a 100 ml 1:1 Reishi Mushroom extract bottled in Miron ultra-violet glass (retail value: $40) and a postcard thank you!
  • $250 – gets you everything above, plus placement of an inspirational quote of your choice in our outhouse for visitors to read for years to come!
  • $1,000 – gets you everything above, plus a brass plaque dedicating our pavilion in your honor! There is only one of these special gifts available.

We hope you consider giving and can share this link with others. This will help us accommodate visitors and share our passion for making food our medicine and medicine our food.

The five little winters of Tennessee

The temperature outside right now is at its predicted low of 33 degrees, I’m hoping the crops made it through the night without any frost damage. Judging from the delicate comfrey blossoms in the front yard (pictured above), I think we might have made it.

These cold snaps in Spring are called “little winters.” I think this is Blackberry Winter.

If you are outside often enough over time, you’ll notice there are usually four or five of these singularities in weather patterns that last a day or two. They were named for the most common bloom at the time, except for “Britches Winter.” That particular cold snap refers to the need to have kept your homespun linen wool long underwear (linsey-woolsey britches) handy.

There is a 6th little winter I call a phantom winter that some folks call Whippoorwill Winter. I call it “phantom” because it’s not usually as cold or damaging as the rest.

Here are the five little winters and when they occur in Tennessee:

  1. Redbud Winter: early April
  2. Dogwood Winter: late April
  3. Locust Winter: early May
  4. Blackberry Winter: mid May
  5. Britches Winter: late May

The lessons of yesteryear are today’s opportunities

This week I helped a friend go through his mother’s attic at their historic Century Farm in nearby Readyville, TN and was reminded of a different time in our nation’s history.

Mary Dee Ready Cates grew up there during the Great Depression and appeared to have kept every scrap rag and glass jar they ever used. I was amazed at all of the American name brands on stuff she kept that simply don’t exist anymore. Steve gave me several of these old two and one quart blue Ball Perfect Mason jars pictured above that we found in the rafters around the chimney as well as an old pressure cooker Mary used to can food. They were some of the only items made by American companies that still exist today.

It’s an era that’s easy to romanticize in hindsight, but for many rural citizens in Tennessee at the time poverty was its own Great Depression. My grandmother told me her family knew there was a Depression going on but already lived so hard it didn’t bother them as much. They made their own clothes, toys and food. Things like oranges and chocolate were luxuries. For her family, the lessons of the time weren’t about being prepared as much as it was about being humble.

During the Great Recession, you would never have known we were a nation at war struggling to pay our bills watching the media’s reflection of a consumer culture in complete denial. If it weren’t for our investments in national infrastructure and social safety nets since the Great Depression, that would be a very different story.

We are fortunate to have so many choices today in how we struggle as a nation. Do we value the lowest price and the easy way out of hard work in exchange for the not so hidden costs to our communities, or do we heed the lesson to value something bigger? Humility, living modestly and sustainably, are values that are as important today as they’ve ever been.

Expanding the barnyard garden

We removed an old barnyard fence that was originally designed to keep livestock out of the garden area. It added another 400 square feet to the garden.

I removed some old cedar posts that were used to keep the soil from washing away and replaced them with another short rock wall. This time we used a hand truck to move very large stones weighing over 100 lbs. each.

Vince went ahead and planted a lot more seeds to account for the extra space. We’ll now have space to start herbs this Spring.

UPDATE 3-12-13: The wall is now complete.

Fire pit reflections on labors of love

We’re supposed to have some awesome weather this weekend here in Middle Tennessee, so I spent some time today building a fire pit where we burned some brush a couple weeks ago.

We’ve got a couple of farm projects this weekend to get us ready for Spring, but sometimes you have to make time to sit and stare at a fire, drink some good beer, and listen to the coyotes howl.

The Winter hours have really kept us busy on the farm. We cleared an acre of fallow pasture, planted apple trees and blueberry bushes, made tons of compost, got seeds ordered and planted, and created garden beds. Thanks to the Rodale Institute and our certifying agent we are now in the inspection phase for USDA Organic Certification.

Our values are our certification at the end of the day, but recognition for going the extra mile doesn’t hurt. Our reward is knowing this labor of love will ensure the food we grow meets the highest quality standards our community deserves.

How to build a firepit using manufactured stone
Here is a very popular tutorial I did for those who do not have access to real stone or want the look of manufactured blocks. Each photo in the series is captioned with instruction. Like us on Facebook to see future projects.

fire pit 1 fire pit 2 fire pit 3 fire pit 4 fire pit 5 fire pit 6 fire pit 7 fire pit 8 fire pit 9 fire pit 10 fire pit 11 fire pit 13 fire pit 14 fire pit 15 fire pit gazebo stereograph

The wisdom of organic farming pioneers

This weekend’s TN Organic Growers Association conference provided a wonderful opportunity to meet one of Tennessee’s organic pioneers. Alfred Farris and his wife Carney moved to their 487 acre farm in Orlinda, TN 39 years ago expecting a hard life following their values. At 82, Alfred attributes their health and well-being to a decision to live harmoniously with the planet.

On Friday, Alfred told us that his mission in life is to be a steward of the soil, caring for and protecting this chance at life we have. He anchors his farm practices to his faith citing the Genesis creation story.

“It’s right there in the Bible,” Alfred says with an assured conviction. “The Hebrew translations for Adam, or ‘Adamah,’ is ‘soil,’ and Eve is ‘life.’”

Alfred and Carney have placed their entire certified organic farm in a trust hoping to ensure the property will be an organic farm forever. Learn more about Windy Acres Farm.

Converting a smokehouse to a private bath in Columbia, TN

Noah, Jacklynn and their son Ace live like pioneers on their beautiful and very old 15 acre farm in Columbia, TN. We’re jealous most of the time.

They’re restoring an old 1800s farm house and cabin on the property while staying in a small Airstream. The cramped quarters have basically turned their entire yard into one giant all-season outdoor living space shared with chickens, dogs and a small pony.

Jacklynn keeps a Tumblr that showcases her eye for the charm of rural living while documenting this beautiful experience. It’s called Log Cabin and a Pony.

Despite it being in the 30s and spitting flurries throughout the day Vince and I came to lend a hand, they’ve gotten pretty use to the weather extremes. But when it comes to private time in the bathroom, they’ve got their priorities.

The outdoor solar shower worked amazingly well even in the Fall. Winter is a different story, so Noah is converting an old smokehouse to a bath (pictured behind Vince above). Jacklynn sounds content with it keeping a less than perfect feel, but Noah’s got other plans.

When he noticed the 100+ year old cedar posts holding the structure up were in remarkable condition, Noah straightened the structure, poured cement footings and let his carpentry skills go from there.

With a new 45 degree pitch roof opening the inside ceiling height, cedar shingled sideing, and soon to come paver floor and an old copper tub, it will fast become a sanctuary … if he thinks to make it lock from the inside.