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!