Nourish your craving gut with a spoon of GingerBeet Tonic

Half Hill Farm’s GingerBeet Apple Cider Vinegar Tonic

The transition to Fall is one of our favorite times of the year. Summer harvests are winding down, the last mowing is near, and we can finally prepare wonderful treats that store away nutrients for another time like our new GingerBeet Tonic!

Our first small batch uses folate rich beets grown organically by Green Door Gourmet combined with organic and mineral-rich nettle, red clover, dandelion leaf and root as well as local honey and organic apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar has many health benefits including aiding with digestion. GingerBeet Tonic also helps nourish your gut’s natural craving for vitamins and minerals.*

This is our farm’s third apple cider vinegar tonic in addition to FireRoot and Elderberry and is now available online and in our Woodbury retail store at the Arts Center of Cannon County. All three would make a perfect seasonal gift that promotes better health and well being!

How To Use GingerBeet 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 desired or try these ideas:

  • Add 2 teaspoons per 8 oz serving of soda water with a few pepper corns, a pinch of salt and a bay leaf garnish for a sweet and savory shrub!
  • Blend two tablespoons with one tablespoon of flax or coconut oil to make a sweet vinaigrette for salads.
  • Drizzle over vegetables or fish to replace salt or butter.

*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.

How herbal bitters help stimulate digestion

Half Hill Farm’s Dandelion Bitters – Herbal Extract

Bitters have been used for centuries to help stimulate our natural digestive processes that help address a host of issues like heartburn, gas and bloating, upset stomach or nausea. Bitter flavors are increasingly missing from modern diets as many of these conditions are coincidentally on the rise.

Good digestion is at the heart of better health and well being. The problem with some drugs used for digestive issues is that they neutralize the body’s way of telling you your diet isn’t working. Some drugs alter the balance of naturally occurring enzymes and gut bacteria to relieve symptoms rather than addressing their long-term causes. If you want to help your body’s natural digestive process work better, you need to understand how bitter flavor receptors work and stimulate them.

How bitters work: Flavor receptors for bitters (T2 receptors) begin on the back of the tongue and populate the entire gastrointestinal tract. Their presence in the gut control functions of digestion and initiates hormonal and neural pathways that affect metabolism. That fact alone should tell you how important a role these receptors play in balanced digestion.

Bitters help awaken your body’s natural digestive process by stimulating the liver to produce bile, the pancreas to produce digestive enzymes and the stomach to produce important acids. The stimulation of bitter receptors throughout the digestive tract helps digest fat, reduces absorption of toxins, and helps the gut absorb nutrients. Using bitters as a digestive aid is the perfect companion to foods that encourage probiotic gut flora.

A natural solution: Half Hill Farm’s Dandelion Bitters is our latest natural remedy to support your body’s natural digestive functions for better health and well being. It is available in 2 oz dropper bottles online or in our Woodbury store in the Arts Center of Cannon County.

Our Dandelion Bitters uses all organic dandelion leaf and root, orange peel, fennel seed, ginger, and cardamom in organic 45% USP alcohol. Take 10 drops before a meal or as needed to soothe an upset stomach.*

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Always consult with your physician before using our products for health reasons.

Farm Fails and How I Learned To Love Weeds


The only surviving blueberry bush at Half Hill Farm

I know it’s silly, but I’ve anguished over how to write this post for about two years.

What it boils down to is a struggle between my vision for our organic farm and what life had in mind. It literally took me a couple years to believe what was really happening.

About a year into farming, a family battle with cancer focused me on the emerging science and healing power of mushrooms that grew without any effort on our farm. It’s what I could do, so I poured myself into cultivating and perfecting a quality product I needed to work for people I loved. It took a heavy toll on the farm. We stopped going to our local farmers’ market. The hops slowly faded into the hillside. Season after season, the deer were having their way in the orchard, and I started growing way more dandelions than anything I actually planted.

Failure and Success: I felt like a total failure even though something amazing was happening at the same time. Customers began calling me from all over the country because they had heard about our mushroom extracts. Our farm’s creation of a natural remedy from our first forage in our woods was changing people’s lives. I got letters and phone calls from people telling me they felt I had saved their life. I cried many times with people on the phone who called to encourage me to keep doing what I was doing. It took a lot of healing customers to convince me it was really happening, and every one was a timely miracle.

It was a life lesson and one of the most humbling experiences of my life. Here I was trying so hard to bring another pound of produce to market when the land had a much bigger purpose in mind with mushrooms and herbaceous weeds if I would just listen to life and let it be. Eager for a purposeful life, that’s exactly what I did..

Half Hill Herbals: As our extract business grew, Vince came on full time and we moved production into an FDA-registered manufacturing kitchen in Woodbury. We expanded our mushroom extracts, partnered with certified organic growers and added new herbal tinctures, extracts and tonics. As I listened and grew with our customers I could see more clearly the path we were always on and how it unfolded in our products and stories of healing. I fell more in love with our weeds, sometimes spending hours identifying and understanding them. I still have a lot to learn and a lot more to share.

      

It literally took mowing down all but one survivor of our 100 blueberry bushes last month to find the language and finally come to terms with the fact that our farm is not what I envisioned. The farm is actually something bigger and more powerful: a beautiful mess of weeds, fungi and a platform for understanding, connecting with, and sharing the healing power of nature.

There were times I sat and cried on the hillside wondering what I was doing selling cucumbers by the pound from two farmable acres. I’ve learned to listen a lot more and trust what the land has been telling me all along. With smarter stewardship and patience, the land will show you its gifts. Weeds and wild herbs that were once in the way of another small crop row have captured my imagination, my heart and my soul.

As I look five years ahead, I see a lot less struggling with mowing and keeping a tidy garden. I see more mushrooms, clover, yellow dock, elderberries, burdock, nettle, mint, yarrow, bee balm, mullein, plantain and yes, dandelion. I see sanctuary. I see more healing. I see life and sharing our future together in the weeds!

Shop Half Hill Farm online or visit our retail store in the Arts Center of Cannon County.

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. 

How hugelkultur can help heal the planet

Hugelkultur is German for “hill culture.” It’s a composting method that allows you to grow food while longer decay processes break down large volumes of buried or mounded wood. It’s an amazing way to sequester carbon and help reduce CO2 outputs that recently have been measured at record levels along with record setting heat. It’s also something you can commit to doing right now to make a difference this Earth Day.

The problem: According to a 2010 report by the EPA, the total global emissions of carbon since the Industrial Revolution are estimated at 270 F 30 Pg (Pg = petagram = 10*15 g = 1 billion ton) due to fossil fuel combustion and 136 F 55 Pg due to changes in land use and agriculture. That’s 400 metric tons of carbon. The potential of soil organic carbon sequestration through composting is roughly 1 F 0.3 Pg C/year, or 1/3 the annual increase in atmospheric CO2 per year (which is 3.3 Pg C/year).

A backyard solution: All of that simply means composting yard wastes could reduce the annual increases in carbon output over the next 20 years by 30%. That’s not through an act of Congress or demanding corporations do anything. That’s a 30% reduction made by each of us in our own backyard. Composting yard waste simply takes all the carbon that your trees and plants sucked out of the air and puts it back in the ground (sequester) where it increases the health of soil, reduces the need for chemical fertilizers, increases water conservation and reduces CO2 emissions. When we burn yard wastes or send food wastes to landfills, we release stored carbon and converted methane into the atmosphere and become part of the problem.

How to make a hugelkultur: The process is pretty simple and a perfect way to get rid of brush, control erosion, retain water and create carbon-rich beds that will produce a lot of food. One thing we’ve added to our hugelkultur beds is old mushroom logs we hope will fruit as well.

  1. Collect carbon: this can be sticks, logs, wood chips, leaves, dried or freshly cut weeds. If you can keep a brush pile going for years, the decaying wood makes a great addition to kick-start the compost process.
  2. Dig a trench in the shape of the bed or hill you want. If you are addressing erosion, keep the trench along contours to capture or slow surface water. 2 feet is deep enough.
  3. Place a thin bed of stick in the bottom and then place your largest logs on top of that. Surround the log with more sticks and cover with wood chips and some of the dirt you dug up.
  4. Super charge your hugelkultur with mushroom logs. Myceliated mushroom logs will break down quicker while also producing edible and medicinal mushrooms. There is naturally occurring mycorrhizal fungi in healthy soil that will network itsway through your hugelkultur, but you can also introduce various fungi in a powerful way.
  5. Cover with dirt and compost if you want to immediately plant in your bed or mound. Cover with nitrogen inputs like green manure (fresh grass or weed cuttings) or animal manure if you plan to plant next season.

You will notice the bed adjust quickly after a few rains followed by a slow decay that makes the surface sink. Over time, the heavier logs will disintegrate. What’s happening is mycelium, microbes, insects and decomposition are making a rich mix of carbon and nutrients for whatever you want to plant. You can plant perennial herbs or annual fruits and vegetables for years as long as you continually amend with inputs from your property. The two beds pictured here took about 1.5 tons of carbon inputs this year alone.

Half Hill Farm’s Ginger Lemonade Kombucha

Slay the potluck with our new seasonal Ginger Lemonade Kombucha – made with all organic cold-pressed ginger and lemon and sweetened with local honey. Available on tap by the cup or growler starting today at our Woodbury store in The Arts Center of Cannon County (open Thurs-Sat 10a-4p)!

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.

What customers are saying about our mushroom extracts


Half Hill Farm’s mushroom extracts – available online and our retail store in Woodbury, TN

When it comes to using natural remedies alone, or as adjunct therapies in the treatment of disease, no two people will have the exact same result. Customer feedback from the past three years, however, has shown us patterns of success that are making a difference in their health and well being.

While we are not doctors and cannot make any claims that our products can diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, we are proud to hear a growing number of customers come from doctor recommendations. Our mushroom extraction process was first formulated for a family member to match standardized processes used by scientists and ethnobotanists for the purposes of many clinical trials and studies because we were not happy with the quality available in the market. The recognition of our quality and reports of better health and well being are humbling and give purpose to our work. It’s also as close to an authentic voice our products can have on behalf of what they can do for others.

Patterns of success: The general experience shared by our customers is that doctors are amazed at better than expected results (These customers didn’t experience the hair loss, appetite loss or nausea typically associated with primary care options and often seen in patients around them, and their blood work often surprises doctors showing strong immune response where a dramatic drop was expected). These observations match the results of recent U.S. based clinical trials. Customers with the most success take 2-3 times the daily serving of our extracts during treatment for various cancers followed by regular daily servings as maintenance. Requesting integrative care options early in cancer treatment exposed customers to alternative treatment options that include mushroom extracts. Examples of integrative care programs can be found at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. One of the most common patterns with these customers is a change in diet that adds more juicing and less meats as well as adding turmeric and black pepper seed oil (piperine in the black pepper dramatically increases the bioavailability of curcumin in turmeric to reduce inflammation).

Feedback: Below are excerpts of written feedback in letters, cards and emails from some of our verified customers who have agreed to let us share their experiences. We have slightly anonymized the names of customers below, but if you have questions or more testimony to share, add them in comments.

My mother has stage 4 Lung and brain cancer. She was given 6 months to live and we just passed year 2. She is on a maintenance chemo and in addition to her vitamin regiment I think your product is helping save her life. Thank you! ~ S.O. in Minnesota

I purchase your extract for our son who has been diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. He has had surgery and had 12 rounds of chemo with no avail. He is now on his second round of chemo for eight treatments. He has been taking the turkey tail extract (a friend recommended it and you) for four weeks today and he feels so much better! His appetite is back and his numbers have been “phenomenal”! He will be having a CT Scan the beginning of December and we are hoping it shows his tumors being affected (we are actually hoping for a “miracle” and it be gone). He is surprised at the amount of energy he has now that he is taking your product. He is taking 2 teaspoons in a cup of tea every morning. I pray everyday this is our answer. Our son says he will take it the rest of his life if it works! Thank you for your dedication to the health of your fellow mankind – it truly gives us hope! ~ J.P. in Wisconsin

This isn’t about money. It’s about who does things right and won’t cut corners and that’s why i believe your products are the finest offered anywhere. This product is Awesome. I’m 72 and have more energy than I ever had. ~ H.M. in Florida

Last report was from the radiologist who was excited to see small changes. Couldn’t explain it. This week we saw his oncologist who was very pleased with the progress & admitted there was definitely some changes going on. With that he added, “Don’t stop what you’re doing.” This is huge!! His Dr. encouraged him!! His oncologist really doesn’t want to know about what the “new” changes are that he is doing but his Dr. saw improvement!! Thank you for all of your blood, sweat & tears.  Thank you for taking risks & stepping out and working so hard for a vision that you believe in. You are changing lives & giving hope where there has only been hopelessness. ~ J.D. in Virginia

I just started taking turkey tail liquid over a month ago. I have stage 4 breast cancer and I went for my monthly shots and exams. My tumors are shrinking and my labs have changed for the better tremendously. My Dr. Was shocked and did not start me on another chemo pill that she intended to do that visit. God has blessed me with this. And I will continue to take it. Thank you so much. More time with my children. ~ K.I. in Kentucky

I was diagnosed in May 2016 with a tick-borne disease. (Not Lyme, but a similar type of disease with similar symptoms.) The aftermath of these diseases can last for months if not years! As part of my treatment, I took Turkey Tail Mushrooms. Within 3 weeks of starting to take them, I was completely better. My doctor could not believe it, and said that all the blood work indicated that the disease was gone. The biggest problem with those diseases is inflammation and auto-immune response. I really believe the Turkey Tail was the factor that made the difference! Definitely take it in your coffee, it took a couple days to get used to it, but it kind of tastes like vanilla, so was easy to get used to! ~ K.F. in Tennessee

How are you doing? Are you seeing results you want to share? Are you a Doctor recommending our product? Do you want to ask our customers a question? Let us know!

Below is a short list of the extracts we make. Half Hill Farm uses a triple extraction process with distilled water, USDA certified organic and wild crafted mushrooms, and USDA certified organic USP alcohol. Our farm will soon offer more products based on what we continue to learn from published research and our customers who are seeing the best results in their health and well being!

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.

Kombucha starter kit – how to make kombucha at home

If you regularly drink kombucha you already know the many health benefits of this fizzy fermented beverage. Did you know you can make it yourself? Our new kombucha starter kits are everything you need to brew your own organic kombucha at home! Our kits include:

  • 1 SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) in 1 cup of kombucha mother
  • 1 cup of organic raw sugar
  • half ounce of organic Assam black tea
  • a 2 gallon glass crock
  • a cover and string
  • a one-page instruction sheet

HOW TO MAKE KOMBUCHA AT HOME
Order your kombucha starter kit from Half Hill Farm online. Each kit comes with more detailed instructions, but here are some basics for home brewers:

  1. Bring 1 gallon of water to a boil, turn off heat and add half ounce of loose black tea. Let steep for 4 minutes, then strain out tea and dissolve a cup of sugar in the tea.
  2. Pour into clean glass crock, cover and allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. Open SCOBY pack and pour all the contents into the crock, cover and secure with string. (TIP: make sure your pH is 4.0 or lower to prevent bad bacteria and molds. You can lower the pH with more kombucha mother. Cheap pH meters will work for a while as long as you keep them calibrated.)
  4. Allow to sit on the counter out of direct sunlight for 7-14 days. Use a straw to gently push aside SCOBY to pull a sample. When it is sour enough, it is ready for flavoring and bottling. (TIP: If you see defined patches of green, brown, white or black fuzzy spots on the surface of your SCOBY, toss the entire batch and start over. The perfect kombucha fermentation temperature range is 75-85 degrees. Do not stir during fermentation. You will see an explosion of yeast as brown strands followed by them falling to the bottom as a thin new SCOBY forms on the top. It may appear cloudy at first and begin clarifying close to the end. You can use thinner cheese cloth, but risk contaminants slipping through and landing on your SCOBY. Use fabric that does not prevent the air flow needed for your surface fermentation.)
  5. Remove SCOBY and at least 1 cup of mother per gallon of new kombucha you want to make later and set aside in a clean bowl covered with a napkin.
  6. Strain the kobucha to remove large strands of yeast or pieces of SCOBY. Flavor with organic cold pressed juices of your choice starting with a cup of juice per gallon to taste.
  7. Pour into pressurized bottles (do not use glass designed for vacuum such as canning jars). Cap and allow to sit at room temperature for 2-5 days during which time a secondary fermentation will increase carbonation (it will also decrease sweetness, increase alcohol and increase yeast and form a small SCOBY – control this with refrigeration). Place in fridge to stop fermentation and enjoy! (TIP: beer bottles work but can explode if secondary fermentation goes too long. Use flip-tops, or swing-top bottles instead. They are expensive but well worth it.)

Want to keep it going without needing to buy more SCOBYs and mother? Take the SCOBY and mother you set aside in step 5 and repeat the entire process using your new SCOBY and mother! It’s that simple.

Need to replace your SCOBY and mother? We have you covered. You can order Half hill Farm’s SCOBY’s with mother through our online store or our retail store in the Arts Center of Cannon County.

Health benefits of kombucha: By transforming a Southern staple beverage of many meals (sweet tea) with the natural process of fermentation, you reduce your sugar intake while aiding in digestion with the introduction of organic chemicals that are increasingly missing and eliminated from packaged and processed foods. The primary organic acid in kombucha responsible for helping the body process blood sugars is the acetic acid (vinegar) you smell and taste as “sour.” Another acid that helps the body detoxify by binding to fat soluble toxins in the liver and making them water soluble and easier to flush out in urine is gluconic acid. Look up more benefits these two acids play in your health and well being. Digestion is also aided with a healthy balance of probiotic bacteria used to ferment the alcohol to various organic acids. These good bacteria help bring your gut’s biome in proper balance.

Got any questions? Leave them in comments. We are happy to help spread the culture and appreciation of fermentation, better health and well being!

Free fermentation workshop – make your own kombucha


Half Hill Farm’s Christian Grantham demonstrates how to make kombucha at home

THANK YOU to everyone who came out Saturday October 29 for our free fermentation workshop demonstrating how to make your own kombucha from home! The workshop also featured our kitchen partners and fermentation revivalist and New York Times best-selling author Sandor Katz!