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!

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.

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:

VIDEO: Half Hill Farm with Christian Grantham

Half Hill Farm is a small seven acre USDA certified organic farm in Woodbury, TN. We are dedicated to sustainable farm practices that reflect our deep commitment to being good stewards of our planet and our general well being.

Check out this excellent introduction video by our good friend Rob Cantor interviewing me over Memorial Day weekend. While you are at it, be sure to subscribe to our new YouTube channel for future instructional videos from our farm!

UPDATE: mushroom workshop pavilion progress

Construction started this week on Half Hill Farm’s mushroom workshop pavilion. Made of locally milled oak & cedar, it’s a perfect setting to help foster an important relationship with nature through a hands-on learning experience. We can’t wait to share this beautiful space with you this Fall here in rural Woodbury, TN!

We could not have done this without you! Back in March of last year, several of you helped us raise a portion of the funds we needed to build this shelter. We didn’t meet our goal, but with a little hard work and support we are finally creating a space to share sustainable fungi-culture & our love of the outdoors.

We are also humbled by the love and appreciation for the healing products we create out of personal needs and our deep reverence for the natural world. Our 1:1 Red Reishi mushroom dual extract was first introduced as a gift to donors of this project last year and has since shipped to over 40 states to folks seeking nature’s balanced remedy. There is never a day we are not here quietly listening, learning and creating. Every day you reach out to us and share your story of why and how you found us affirms our commitment to serve.

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. 

Spring planting 2015: seeds of change and progress

Spring is about 6 or 7 weeks away. Time to get the popup greenhouses out and get these seeds going!

Progress: Last March, many of you helped us raise funds to open our farm to more mushroom workshops. Although we fell short of our goal, a little hard work made up the difference. Thanks to your help, the workshop pavilion pad is getting poured next week (somewhere in the photo above) along with the entrance to our farm! We’re excited about what this means for accommodating growing interest in our certified organic mushroom production and farm practices.

This year is our official harvest of Tennessee’s first certified organic crop of hops on our farm! Most of this year’s harvest will be dedicated to a new product coming out this Fall with some hops available to local brew clubs. Follow us on Facebook to know when these items will be available.

Change: This year we will not be regular vendors at the Woodbury Farmers’ Market due to demand for our mushroom products. We’re still figuring out what days we’ll be there. This year will be our first official apple and blueberry harvest, and we’re excited to make these available through local restaurants or at our local market.

Seeds: We’re planting a lot of our favorites for salsa making this year from newly purchased certified organic seeds. Like our Shiitake mushrooms, whatever vegetable produce doesn’t turn into Raw Salsa will be available direct to local restaurants.

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!

The sum of this year’s goodness


Our friends at Yellowbird Farms take a break from sheep to make Shiitake mushroom logs.

Our first season of mushroom log workshops is now closed as we head into the Winter thankful for another amazing year!

The 20 mushroom workshops we did this Fall on our farm helped introduce several people in our community to a sustainable way to grow edible Shiitake mushrooms. We are grateful to our neighbors who offered us their fallen or storm damaged oak trees for mushroom production. The logs we used helped sequester over a ton of carbon back into our food chain rather than being released back into the atmosphere as fire wood.

We were also excited to begin offering mushroom logs at our local farmers’ market in Woodbury this Summer and look forward to expanding these health & educational opportunities next year.

Despite a personal loss in our family with the passing of Sandra Landers, we were inspired to create Red Reishi and Turkey Tail extracts that now help others and fullfill our mission to be good stewards of our planet and our general well being. We are so grateful to those who seek us out and who continue to enhance our understanding of how our extracts are used.

The sum of the year’s goodness ultimately comes down to each of you. By taking a personal step to buy local, buy organic and support a sustainable lifestyle, your combined action has become the change we want to see in the world. We are forever grateful to see that at the end of a long season. Thank you for that!