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Medicinal herb farm brings health and education together

Could an Apple Hill visit a day keep the doctor away?

Two people standing in a farmers field.
Melissa and Jennifer Schooley opened their health store and medicinal herb farm, Apple Hill Apothecary, last year in Virgil.

Melissa and Jennifer Schooley opened Apple Hill Apothecary in Niagara-on-the-Lake last May. Their family has long run a lavender farm of the same name in Norfolk County and were approached with the idea of opening a similar lavender farm at the Niagara Stone Road property. However, Melissa had other ideas. She’s studied the benefits of medicinal herbs, completing her Medicinal Plant certificate from Cornell University. She’s also currently working her way through a Practical Herbalist diploma from Wild Rose College. With that background, she and Jennifer decided to start a medicinal herb garden with a focus on raising awareness and understanding.

“We really wanted a space that could showcase education because we really wanted to teach people,” said Melissa. 

Her interest in medicinal herbs came partly from her mother Janice, who was the first ginseng and medicinal herb specialist for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, and partly for her own benefit as she looked for ways to improve her health, sleep and reduce the issues “women of a certain age” experience, as she put it.

This summer the farm will have 43 different plants growing that the Schooleys say can help with all sorts of issues, from stress and anxiety to digestive issues, sleeping problems to hot flashes.

They recently gave a tour to a group that took part in a fundraiser for the Niagara Bee Group where they received a collection of native plants to take with them for their home gardens. As part of it master gardener Mary-Lyn Hopper gave a presentation and the Schooleys provided some info on the herbs they grow.

The plants can be used in a variety of ways. Some are used to make teas, others tinctures. Melissa recalled a few years ago a friend caught COVID-19 and had a brutal cough. She rolled up some dried mullein leaves and told her friend to smoke it. The friend was understandably hesitant, but followed the directions and within minutes Melissa said the cough eased.

However, Melissa stresses they’re not anti-Western medicine, and instead offer an additional way to get and stay healthy. 

While Melissa knows what to do with the plant once it’s harvested, her sister Jennifer is the growing guru, taking care of the planting and growing. “I love the challenge,” she said of growing such a wide variety of plants. Coming to Niagara has presented its own unique challenges, as the soil and micro-climate are both different from what they’re used to over in Norfolk.

As part of their commitment to being an educational experience, Jennifer said they offer tips to visitors who want to grow their own medicinal herbs at home.

The fundraiser for the Niagara Bee Group fits in with Apple Hill’s support for sustainability, where they sell other health products with a focus on women-led businesses and businesses that contain a strong sustainability component. All of the proceeds from the sale went to the Niagara Bee Group, which works to promote biodiversity and a healthy ecosystem in the region.

Apple Hill Apothecary is open seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. The Schooleys invite visitors to take a tour of their herb farm and learn more about what’s offered.

Jennifer and Melissa both said people seem more interested in understanding where their food and medicine comes from, and Apple Hill can do its small part to provide that information.

To learn more about Apple Hill, visit or follow them on Facebook and Instagram. 


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