Chelsea Green Publishing

The Chinese Medicinal Herb Farm

Pages:324 pages
Book Art:Color illustrations and maps
Size: 8 x 10 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback: 9781603583305
Pub. Date November 30, 2011

The Chinese Medicinal Herb Farm

A Cultivator's Guide to Small-Scale Organic Herb Production

By Peg Schafer
Contributions by Sean Fannin
Foreword by Steven Foster

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
November 30, 2011


A leading light in the field of medicinal herb cultivation, The Chinese Medicinal Herb Farm is the first cultivation guide of its kind, and presents invaluable information for growers interested in producing high-quality efficacious herbs in all climates of the US, with the historical connectedness of ancient practitioners.

It has become increasingly important-especially as the market for herbal medicine continues to grow-that we transition to local and domestic medicinal cultivation. Increasingly there are concerns in regards to not only the quality but the purity of imported herbs, and wild herbs picked for medicinal purposes are ever more endangered than in past years both at home and abroad.

Peg Schafer, longtime grower and teacher, guides readers with information on propagating, cultivating, and harvesting Chinese herbs, and presents fascinating new scientific data that reveal the age-old wisdom of nature and the traditional systems of Chinese medicine. Through 79 detailed herb profiles--all tested and trialed on Schafer's certified organic farm-Schafer offers easy-to-follow information, suitable for both growers and practitioners, for growing efficacious wild-simulated herbs. Also included is important information on species conservation, crop integration, and how to avoid the introduction of invasive species. Sidebars on traditional medicinal uses for each herb and delicious recipes are also featured throughout.

Vegetable and CSA farmers will find this book of great interest for adding value-added crops to their repertoire, and beginner growers looking to incorporate medicinals into their gardens will find this an invaluable guide to understanding where herbal medicine comes from, and will make eating-your-medicine more accessible than ever.


"For the practitioner of Chinese medicine, The Chinese Medicinal Herb Farm is a teacher, drawing us closer to the herbs we use. For the casual gardener, it is a handbook for growing fresh Chinese herbs as part of a healthy diet. For anyone who has an interest in growing their own Chinese herbs, Peg Schafer gives us a new reason to look forward to spring."--Andrew Ellis, author of Notes from South Mountain: A Guide to Concentrated Herb Granules

"Peg Schafer, the most experienced Chinese medicinal herb grower in North America, charts a new course in Chinese medicinal plant cultivation by providing the guidance needed to grow the most important of these herbs domestically. This book offers more than just cultivation tips, but also an assurance of proper plant identification, optimal growing and harvesting conditions, freshness of materials, and the ability to access Chinese medicinals with the lowest carbon footprint possible."--Roy Upton, Executive Director, American Herbal Pharmacopoeia

"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 Way

"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,

"This is by far the most detailed and thorough book that addresses the urgent issue of organic cultivation and processing of Chinese herbs. It will have a profound effect on future land use, herb availability, pesticide burdens, and sustainability in a field that is expanding rapidly around the world. I can't stress enough how valuable and rare this information is to practitioners and users of Chinese herbal medicine. I highly recommend this book for all TCM herbalists, as well as gardeners and farmers who want to learn the art of the organic cultivation of Chinese medicinals."--Bill Schoenbart, L.Ac., D.A.O.M

Book News-
Schafer, affiliated with the Chinese Medicinal Herb Farm in Petaluma, California, co-founded the first U.S. company to offer organic, domestically grown Chinese medicinal herbs. In this guide for Chinese medicine practitioners and organic farmers, she gives advice on organically growing and harvesting 79 medicinal herbs. Most of the herbs are used in Chinese medicine, but a few belong to the Ayurvedic tradition. The first section of the book gives background on herbal traditions, risks to the future of herbalism, and conservation and global trade in medicinal plants. This section also gives general advice on cultivation in the nursery, garden, and field, and on harvesting, drying, storing, and shipping herbs, collecting and saving seeds, and selling herbs. The book then provides profiles of 79 herbs. Each herb entry gives a plant description, advice on propagation and planting, a list of suitable plant companions, and a brief summary of medicinal uses, plus notes on field production, pests and diseases, and harvest and yield. Each entry also includes a couple of color photos of plants in the field and the roots, flowers, or other parts when processed for medicinal use.

"Comprehensive" best describes Schafer's specialized resource. She begins, appropriately, with a discussion of small-scale cultivation as a way to protect the environment and be part of the international trade in medicinal plants. The growth of herbal trade parallels the increase in the number of Americans exploring acupuncture and other elements of traditional Chinese medicine, so this guide will meet the rising do-it-yourself interest in growing medicinal herbs. Schafer's easily understood instructions are accompanied by boxed inserts of important tips, charts and tables, and photographs. Most of the book is dedicated to 79 detailed herb profiles with growing information and medicinal uses. Also provided are plant and medicinal name cross-references; hardiness-zone maps with a China-U.S. latitude overlay; resources for herb seeds and plants; recommended readings, listings of websites, and herbal and conservation organizations; and an all-important glossary of horticultural, medicinal, and Chinese terms. This genuinely unusual, authoritative manual will likely be in brisk demand.


Peg Schafer

Peg Schafer is recognized as one of the pioneers and leaders in the field of the cultivation of Asian herbs. After more than fifteen years of commercial herb cultivation and research at the Chinese Medicinal Herb Farm in Petaluma, California, Schafer has distilled her findings into a guide for growers and practitioners of Chinese medicine. Schafer has played an influential role in establishing a network of organizations including Fu Tian Herbs, the first company in the United States to solely offer certified organic, domestically grown Chinese herbs (which she co-founded), The Sonoma County Herb Association, and The Medicinal Herb Consortium. Along with offering seed and field-grown herbs, Schafer's own Chinese Medicinal Herb Farm operates as an experimental farm to investigate herb cultivation and aid herb conservation. Its internship program gives people hands-on knowledge experience in all aspects of growing and harvesting Chinese herbs.


October 24, 2015

Peg Schafer at Quarryhill Botanical Gardens

12841 Sonoma Hwy, Glen Ellen, CA, 95442 | Peg Schafer
On October 24, Peg Schafer will lead a Medicinal Plant Walk in the Quarryhill Botanical Gardens with Sean Fannin. Registration fee is $10 for members, and $15 for non-members. All proceeds of the walk will benefit the Quarryhill Botanical Garden.

See all Events by this Author


The Wild Wisdom of Weeds

The Wild Wisdom of Weeds

By Katrina Blair

The Wild Wisdom of Weeds is the only book on foraging and edible weeds to focus on the thirteen weeds found all over the world, each of which represents a complete food source and extensive medical pharmacy and first-aid kit.  More than just a field guide to wild edibles, it is a global plan for human survival. 

When Katrina Blair was eleven she had a life-changing experience where wild plants spoke to her, beckoning her to become a champion of their cause. Since then she has spent months on end taking walkabouts in the wild, eating nothing but what she forages, and has become a wild-foods advocate, community activist, gardener, and chef, teaching and presenting internationally about foraging and the healthful lifestyle it promotes. 

Katrina Blair’s philosophy in The Wild Wisdom of Weeds is sobering, realistic, and ultimately optimistic. If we can open our eyes to see the wisdom found in these weeds right under our noses, instead of trying to eradicate an “invasive,” we will achieve true food security. The Wild Wisdom of Weeds is about healing ourselves both in body and in spirit, in an age where technology, commodity agriculture, and processed foods dictate the terms of our intelligence. But if we can become familiar with these thirteen edible survival weeds found all over the world, we will never go hungry, and we will become closer to our own wild human instincts—all the while enjoying the freshest, wildest, and most nutritious food there is. For free!

The thirteen plants found growing in every region across the world are: dandelion, mallow, purslane, plantain, thistle, amaranth, dock, mustard, grass, chickweed, clover, lambsquarter, and knotweed.  These special plants contribute to the regeneration of the earth while supporting the survival of our human species; they grow everywhere where human civilization exists, from the hottest deserts to the Arctic Circle, following the path of human disturbance. Indeed, the more humans disturb the earth and put our food supply at risk, the more these thirteen plants proliferate. It’s a survival plan for the ages.

Including over one hundred unique recipes, Katrina Blair’s book teaches us how to prepare these wild plants from root to seed in soups, salads, slaws, crackers, pestos, seed breads, and seed butters; cereals, green powders, sauerkrauts, smoothies, and milks; first-aid concoctions such as tinctures, teas, salves, and soothers; self-care/beauty products including shampoo, mouthwash, toothpaste (and brush), face masks; and a lot more. Whether readers are based at home or traveling, this book aims to empower individuals to maintain a state of optimal health with minimal cost and effort.    

Available in: Paperback, eBook

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The Wild Wisdom of Weeds

Sandor Ellix Katz, Katrina Blair

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Companies We Keep

Companies We Keep

By John Abrams

Part memoir and part examination of a new business model, the 2005 release of The Company We Keep marked the debut of an important new voice in the literature of American business. Now, in Companies We Keep, the revised and expanded edition of his 2005 work, John Abrams further develops his idea that companies flourish when they become centers of interdependence, or “communities of enterprise.”

Thoroughly revised with an expanded focus on employee ownership and workplace democracy, Companies We Keep celebrates the idea that when employees share in the rewards as well as the responsibility for the decisions they make, better decisions result. This is an especially timely topic. Most of the baby boomer generation—the owners of millions of American businesses— will retire within the next two decades. In 2001, 50,000 businesses changed hands. In 2005, that number rose to 350,000. Projections call for 750,000 ownership transitions in 2009. Employee ownership—in both the philosophical and the practical sense—is gathering steam as businesses change hands, and Abrams examines some of the many ways this is done.

Companies We Keep is structured around eight principles—from “Sharing Ownership” and “Cultivating Workplace Democracy” to “Thinking Like Cathedral Builders” and “Committing to the Business of Place”—that Abrams has discovered in the 32 years since he cofounded South Mountain Company on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. Together, these principles reveal communities of enterprise as a potent force of change that can—and will— improve the way Americans do business.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

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John Abrams, William Greider

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Up Tunket Road

Up Tunket Road

By Philip Ackerman-Leist

Ever since Thoreau's Walden, the image of the American homesteader has been of someone getting away from civilization, of forging an independent life in the country. Yet if this were ever true, what is the nature and reality of homesteading in the media-saturated, hyper-connected 21st century?

For seven years Philip Ackerman-Leist and his wife, Erin, lived without electricity or running water in an old cabin in the beautiful but remote hills of western New England. Slowly forging their own farm and homestead, they took inspiration from their experiences among the mountain farmers of the Tirolean Alps and were guided by their Vermont neighbors, who taught them about what it truly means to live sustainably in the postmodern homestead--not only to survive, but to thrive in a fragmented landscape and a fractured economy.

Up Tunket Road is the inspiring true story of a young couple who embraced the joys of simple living while also acknowledging its frustrations and complexities. Ackerman-Leist writes with humor about the inevitable foibles of setting up life off the grid--from hauling frozen laundry uphill to getting locked in the henhouse by their ox. But he also weaves an instructive narrative that contemplates the future of simple living. His is not a how-to guide, but something much richer and more important--a tale of discovery that will resonate with readers who yearn for a better, more meaningful life, whether they live in the city, country, or somewhere in between.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

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Philip Ackerman-Leist, Erin Ackerman-Leist

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The Sugarmaker's Companion

The Sugarmaker's Companion

By Michael Farrell

The Sugarmaker’s Companion is the first guide of its kind addressing the small- and large-scale syrup producer seeking to make a profitable business from maple, birch, and walnut sap. This comprehensive work incorporates valuable information on ecological forest management, value-added products, and the most up-to-date techniques on sap collection and processing. It is, most importantly, a guide to an integrated sugaring operation, interconnected to the whole-farm system, woodland, and community. Farrell documents the untapped potential of American forests and shows how sugaring can turn a substantial profit for farmers while providing tremendous enjoyment and satisfaction. 

Michael Farrell, sugarmaker and director of the Uihlein Forest at Cornell University, offers information on setting up and maintaining a viable sugaring business by incorporating the wisdom of traditional sugarmaking with the value of modern technology (such as reverse-osmosis machines and vacuum tubing). He gives a balanced view of the industry while offering a realistic picture of how modern technology can be beneficial, from both an economic and an environmental perspective. Within these pages, readers will find if syrup production is right for them (and on what scale), determine how to find trees for tapping, learn the essentials of sap collection, the art and science of sugarmaking, and how to build community through syrup production. 

There are many more unique aspects to this book that set it apart from anything else on the market, including:

•    A focus on maple as a local, sustainably produced and healthy alternative to corn syrup and other highly processed and artificial sweeteners;
•    The health benefits of sap and syrup in North America and throughout the world;
•    Attention to the questions of organic certification, sugarhouse registration, and the new international grading system;
•    Enhancing diversity in the sugarbush and interplanting understory crops for value-added products (ginseng, goldenseal, and mushrooms, specifically);
•    An economic analysis of utilizing maple trees for syrup or sawtimber production and the market opportunities for taphole maple lumber;
•    The value of sap as a healthful and profitable energy drink;
•    Detailed analyses on the economics of buying and selling sap;
•    Lots of great information on marketing to create a profitable business model (based on scale, interest, and access), and more. . . .

Applicable for a wide range of climates and regions, this book is sure to change the conversation around syrup production and prove invaluable for both home-scale and commercial sugarmakers alike.

Available in: Paperback

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The Sugarmaker's Companion

Michael Farrell

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