Here’s what some growers and herbalists have to say about this exciting new book:
“Peg Schafer is the best artisanal grower I know. For this book, she has distilled the knowledge of the small group who, over the past two decades, has pioneered North American production of Chinese medicinal herbs, and tested it through direct experience. This book clearly explains the whys as well as the how-tos, and delivers information into the eager hands of all perennial polyculturalists who will grow us a post-peak oil healthcare system; it is a gift to us all.” —Jean Giblette, owner, High Falls Gardens and co-founder, LocalHerbs.org
“Peg Schafer understands in more ways than one that good health springs from the land. Herbs from the Chinese tradition perfectly complement more familiar healing plants. The concept of ‘regional medicine farms’ resonates so well with the growing desire to eat more locally. But of course! We are what we eat, and that includes the medicinal plants that work with our bodies to create wholeness. Every plant person will instantly recognize the gift waiting within this book—Schafer shares many astute observations of how each plant garners medicinal oomph, what she calls the vital qi (chi) of each herb. And that’s the right sort of inspiration to launch any thinking gardener!” —Michael Phillips, author of The Holistic Orchard, and co-author Nancy Phillips of The Herbalist’s WayIt sounds like K. C. Compton of Herb Companion magazine had a wonderful visit to Schafer’s herb farm.
Schafer’s greeting is as warm as the weather, but as soon as we enter the growing area, it’s obvious this is a place where business—a lot of business—gets done. Tools are everywhere, along with organized piles of herbs and the hum of a dehydrator that forms a steady accompaniment to conversation in Schafer’s office. When we head out to the trial garden and fields, it’s like visiting a friendly but somewhat alien land. There are mimosa and honeysuckle—recognizable, but who knew they were medicinal? And at last I get to see Withania somnifera, also known as ashwagandha, growing. It isn’t pretty, but it’s one of my favorite herbs, a great tonic herb that nourishes just about every system in the body. See it in the Image Gallery. Schafer says she started her business because she saw a need for the Chinese medicinal herbs used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to be grown and harvested safely, sustainably and with integrity—an approach that’s by no means a given in today’s market. She’s written her newly released book, The Chinese Medicinal Herb Farm: A Cultivator’s Guide to Small-Scale Organic Herb Production because she is a woman on a mission: She wants to encourage more people to follow in her footsteps, for the sake of health and ecology, and also to strengthen and diversify the growing stock of these remarkable plants. The following excerpt is for any of our readers who want to expand their herbal businesses or just grow a few healing herbs in their gardens.