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


Farming the Woods

Farming the Woods

By Ken Mudge and Steve Gabriel

In the eyes of many people, the practices of forestry and farming are mutually exclusive, because in the modern world, agriculture involves open fields, straight rows, and machinery to grow crops, while forests are primarily reserved for timber and firewood harvesting. Farming the Woods invites a remarkably different perspective: that a healthy forest can be maintained while growing a wide range of food, medicinal, and other non-timber products. While this concept of “forest farming” may seem like an obscure practice, history indicates that much of humanity lived and sustained itself from tree-based systems in the past; only recently have people traded the forest for the field.  The good news is that this is not an either-or scenario; forest farms can be most productive in places where the plow is not: on steep slopes, and in shallow soils. It is an invaluable practice to integrate into any farm or homestead, especially as the need for unique value-added products and supplemental income becomes more and more important for farmers.

Many already know that daily indulgences we take for granted such as coffee, chocolate, and many tropical fruits, all originate in forest ecosystems. But few know that such abundance is also available in the cool temperate forests of North America. Farming the Woods is the first in-depth guide for farmers and gardeners who have access to an established woodland and are looking for productive ways to manage it. Authors Ken Mudge and Steve Gabriel describe this process as "productive conservation," guided by the processes and relationships found in natural forest ecosystems. 

Farming the Woods covers in detail how to cultivate, harvest, and market high-value non-timber forest crops such as American ginseng, shiitake mushrooms, ramps (wild leeks), maple syrup, fruit and nut trees, ornamental ferns, and more. Comprehensive information is also offered on historical perspectives of forest farming; mimicking the forest in a changing climate; cultivation of medicinal crops; creating a forest nursery; harvesting and utilizing wood products; the role of animals in the forest farm; and how to design and manage your forest farm once it's set up. This book is a must-read for farmers and gardeners interested in incorporating aspects of agroforestry, permaculture, forest gardening, and sustainable woodlot management into the concept of a whole-farm organism. 

Available in: Paperback

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Farming the Woods

Ken Mudge, Steve Gabriel, John F. Munsell

Paperback $39.95

Small-Scale Grain Raising

Small-Scale Grain Raising

By Gene Logsdon

First published in 1977, this book—from one of America’s most famous and prolific agricultural writers—became an almost instant classic among homestead gardeners and small farmers. Now fully updated and available once more, Small-Scale Grain Raising offers a entirely new generation of readers the best introduction to a wide range of both common and lesser-known specialty grains and related field crops, from corn, wheat, and rye to buckwheat, millet, rice, spelt, flax, and even beans and sunflowers.

More and more Americans are seeking out locally grown foods, yet one of the real stumbling blocks to their efforts has been finding local sources for grains, which are grown mainly on large, distant corporate farms. At the same time, commodity prices for grains—and the products made from them—have skyrocketed due to rising energy costs and increased demand. In this book, Gene Logsdon proves that anyone who has access to a large garden or small farm can (and should) think outside the agribusiness box and learn to grow healthy whole grains or beans—the base of our culinary food pyramid—alongside their fruits and vegetables.

Starting from the simple but revolutionary concept of the garden “pancake patch,” Logsdon opens up our eyes to a whole world of plants that we wrongly assume only the agricultural “big boys” can grow. He succinctly covers all the basics, from planting and dealing with pests, weeds, and diseases to harvesting, processing, storing, and using whole grains. There are even a few recipes sprinkled throughout, along with more than a little wit and wisdom.

Never has there been a better time, or a more receptive audience, for this book. Localvores, serious home gardeners, CSA farmers, and whole-foods advocates—in fact, all people who value fresh, high-quality foods—will find a field full of information and ideas in this once and future classic.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

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Small-Scale Grain Raising

Gene Logsdon, Jerry O'Brien

Paperback $29.95

Fresh Food from Small Spaces

Fresh Food from Small Spaces

By R.J. Ruppenthal

Books on container gardening have been wildly popular with urban and suburban readers, but until now, there has been no comprehensive "how-to" guide for growing fresh food in the absence of open land. Fresh Food from Small Spaces fills the gap as a practical, comprehensive, and downright fun guide to growing food in small spaces. It provides readers with the knowledge and skills necessary to produce their own fresh vegetables, mushrooms, sprouts, and fermented foods as well as to raise bees and chickens—all without reliance on energy-intensive systems like indoor lighting and hydroponics.

Readers will learn how to transform their balconies and windowsills into productive vegetable gardens, their countertops and storage lockers into commercial-quality sprout and mushroom farms, and their outside nooks and crannies into whatever they can imagine, including sustainable nurseries for honeybees and chickens. Free space for the city gardener might be no more than a cramped patio, balcony, rooftop, windowsill, hanging rafter, dark cabinet, garage, or storage area, but no space is too small or too dark to raise food.

With this book as a guide, people living in apartments, condominiums, townhouses, and single-family homes will be able to grow up to 20 percent of their own fresh food using a combination of traditional gardening methods and space-saving techniques such as reflected lighting and container "terracing." Those with access to yards can produce even more.

Author R. J. Ruppenthal worked on an organic vegetable farm in his youth, but his expertise in urban and indoor gardening has been hard-won through years of trial-and-error experience. In the small city homes where he has lived, often with no more than a balcony, windowsill, and countertop for gardening, Ruppenthal and his family have been able to eat at least some homegrown food 365 days per year. In an era of declining resources and environmental disruption, Ruppenthal shows that even urban dwellers can contribute to a rebirth of local, fresh foods.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

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Fresh Food from Small Spaces

R.J. Ruppenthal

Paperback $24.95

Natural Beekeeping (Book & DVD Bundle)

Natural Beekeeping (Book & DVD Bundle)

By Ross Conrad

Today's beekeepers face unprecedented challenges, a fact that is now front-page news with the spread of "colony collapse disorder." Newly introduced pests like varroa and tracheal mites have made chemical treatment of hives standard practice, but pest resistance is building, which in turn creates demand for new and even more toxic chemicals. In fact, there is evidence that chemical treatments are making matters worse.

It's time for a new approach. In this set, which includes the new, full-color, Natural Beekeping, Revised and Expanded Edition, and a DVD workshop, Ross Conrad brings together the best "do no harm" strategies for keeping honeybees healthy and productive, all of which are covered in a thoughtful, matter-of-fact way.

About Natural Beekeeping, Revised and Expanded Edition:

Now revised and updated with new resources and including full-color photos throughout, Natural Beekeeping offers all the latest information in a book that has already proven invaluable for organic beekeepers. The new edition offers the same holistic, sensible alternative to conventional chemical practices with a program of natural hive management, but offers new sections on a wide range of subjects, including:

  • The basics of bee biology and anatomy;
  • Urban beekeeping;
  • Identifying and working with queens;
  • Parasitic mite control; and
  • Hive diseases.

Also, a completely new chapter on marketing provides valuable advice for anyone who intends to sell a wide range of hive products.

Natural Beekeeping covers nontoxic methods of controlling mites; eliminating American foulbrood disease without the use of antibiotics; selective breeding for naturally resistant bees; and many other detailed management techniques, which are covered in a thoughtful, matter-of-fact way.

Whether you are a novice looking to get started with bees, an experienced apiculturist looking for ideas to develop an integrated pest-management approach, or someone who wants to sell honey at a premium price, this is the book you've been waiting for.

About Natural Beekeeping with Ross Conrad (DVD):

In this filmed workshop, Ross Conrad flips the script on traditional approaches by proposing a program of selective breeding and natural hive management. The video presents a comprehensive survey of natural beekeeping methods and challenges, including segments filmed in thefield. It offers practical information that every aspiring beekeeper needs to know—everything from basic hive equipment to working with your bees to harvesting and processing honey.

Available in: Mixed media product

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Natural Beekeeping (Book & DVD Bundle)

Ross Conrad, Gary Paul Nabhan

Mixed media product $54.95