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.

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.

‘You saved my daughter’s life!’ – the healing power of mushrooms


A ‘cloud’ of Turkey Tail mushrooms (Trametes Versicolor) on logs at Half Hill Farm

A few months ago, I got a call from a customer who was looking for what I thought was an adjunct therapy for his daughter in treatment for brain cancer. His own research made him hopeful that our Turkey Tail extract could help. It wasn’t until a couple months later that I discovered on a second call the full extent of what was going on.

“I want you to know you saved my daughter’s life,” the customer told me. It’s something I hear often from customers, from ecstatic calls of people now in remission to those experiencing little to no side effects to chemo or radiation (most common) and positive changes in blood tests, but when he told me his daughter had been in hospice, I was shocked.

It is certainly not a common experience for patients to go from hospice back to treatment options, but it’s stories like this that give what we do meaning and purpose. It’s stories like this that are why we have grown into an FDA-registered manufacturing space and why we continue to expand our product offerings to include nature’s very best organically grown and wildcrafted mushroom extracts.

We are humbled every day with your phone calls and emails. While the body of research on mushrooms is growing, we know we cannot market our extracts or products as a treatment, cure or prevention of any disease, but that doesn’t stop our customers from sharing their stories. It has presented a unique challenge over the past two years as to how we present those stories to you in a responsible way.

Mushroom Dual Extracts available in 100 ml (3.38 oz) or 200 ml (6.76 oz) bottles from Half Hill Farm:

If you are one of the hundreds of customers across the country who take our extracts, we would love to hear why you take them and what you are experiencing. Your experience could help someone follow you on a path toward better health and well-being. You can leave your comment here, or leave a review on the product pages of our online store.

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

THANK YOU: a new year together

2015 was an incredibly rewarding year! We served hundreds of customers with a level of quality and care we want to see in the world, and that made usfriends all over the United States with humbling stories of lives forever changed and a praise that tells us we are on the right path. It’s what focusing on quality will do, and we can’t wait to give it back ten times more in 2016!

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!