In the Kitchen: Westport's Town Farm Tonics Founder Talks Infusing Herbs in Our Diets

Carissa Wills-DeMello shares healthy eating and sipping tips

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“The foundation of my work is empowerment,” says Westport-based herbalist and health coach Carissa Wills-DeMello. “The most incredible form of empowerment is building the confidence to take your health into your own hands with simple means.” 

It’s with this mission in mind that Wills-DeMello, along with partner Adam Davenport, founded Town Farm Tonics. In addition to concocting teas, syrups, and infused vinegar tonics, Wills-DeMello prioritizes educating people on herbalism. For instance, when it comes to the ingredients they use, she advises that recognizable and native plants are always best.

“Herbs that grow in our region live in the same environment that we do, so they are best suited for our bodies,” says Wills-DeMello. “When we know which backyard plants and wild weeds are around us, then we have easy access to an endless supply of medicinal plants to work with.” In the tonics she and Davenport develop, all ingredients are also organic and sustainably sourced.

Though spring is around the corner, for this last leg of winter, Wills-DeMello shares that she “looks to nature for guidance. The plants are all asleep. A lot of the animals hibernate – rest is critical. You don’t need permission to rest.”

And of course, keeping warm with tea never hurts. Wills-DeMello recommends using spices like ginger, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper to help promote healthy circulation – all flavors you can find in Town Farm Tonics’ Elderberry Syrup (with a base of local wildflower honey and apple cider vinegar), perfect for mixing in a drink; or Fire Cider, which helps helps with congestion and adds a spicy kick to soup broth. 

“The transition from winter to spring means moving from a season of rest and reflection into a season of movement and growth,” says Wills-DeMello. And since it can be difficult to get enough fresh greens in our diets in the winter, she turns to mineral-rich herbs. Nettles, red clover, and dandelion are local nutrient-rich herbs she uses in Nourish Tea, a loose-leaf blend that’s like “nature’s multivitamin in a mug.”

“Supporting your health should be enjoyable,” she says, so their goal is always to create products that are delicious – and versatile in their uses to fit anyone’s lifestyle, whether steeping teas or combining herbs and vinegars to create flavorful salad dressings.

While Town Farm Tonics doesn’t have its own brick-and-mortar home, Wills-DeMello and Davenport sell their products at markets and stores across the state. On the horizon, they hope to one day open their own herb farm to continue their mission of holistic health education. 

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