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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.
"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, LocalHerbs.org
"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