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    Our Somerville Office is closed in June 1, 2017. You are welcome to visit us in Boston or Waltham Offices.
    Waltham Office is relocated with parking behind the building thru Music Hall Ave

    Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, NC

    The Farmer

    Farm House in Mount Wuyi, Fujian, China

    Miles Chong Chen, the founder of Chi Wellnness Clinic in Boston, is a farmer at heart. He describes his childhood experiences and his discovery of Asheville:

    "When I grew up in China, six out of my ten neighbors were traditional medicinal herbalists. We lived in apartments above an herbal processing plant, where kids could roam freely amid the raw herbs (many of them were also food). These medicine men were not educated at modern colleges, but apprenticed with a master since they were 9 - 12 years old. When I was ten years old, they took me on Sundays to hunt for wild mushrooms and medicinal herbs in the Wuyi mountains of Fujian, China, the largest semi-tropical biodiversity reserve in the world, as it was later designated by UNESCO of the United Nations. When I turned 16, after high school, I became a farmer at Mount Wuyi. I developed a deep appreciation for the primitive ancient farming practices local peasants taught me.

    "My early childhood education, which was mostly "old and primitive," left a strong imprint on my being. In contrast, my adult education, at college in China and later graduate school in the US, was centered on Western science and cutting edge technology. I believe that some ancient wisdom is biologically relevant and medicinally useful.

    "My personal experience motivates me to share with Americans the benefits of sustainable agriculture based on Chinese ancient farming techniques. I am always drawn to mountains and springs, sources of healing, tranquility and harmony. I have to thank my friend, Leslie Smith, who a serendipitous meeting in Boston in 2006, told me about spring flowers in the Blue Ridge Mountains and proclaimed, "This is the place for you." Indeed, I found the mountains in Western North Carolina special, spiritual and healing."

    The Neighborhood

    ASAP Logo, Asheville      

    Asheville is a center of sustainable farming practices in the U.S. Local farmers and rural communities are supported by the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP), a nonprofit organization. It has created regional community-based and integrated food systems that are locally owned and controlled, environmentally sound, economically viable and health-promoting. Its vision is a future food system, throughout the mountains of North Carolina and the southern Appalachians, that provides a safe and nutritious food supply for all segments of society, that is produced, marketed and distributed in a manner that enhances human and environmental health and that adds economic and social value to rural and urban communities.

    Asheville Herb Festival

    Asheville is a mecca in the Southeast for finding high-quality, often organically grown herbs and herbal products. North Carolina is becoming a key global supplier of premium-quality plant-based natural medicines, organic products, functional foods, personal care products and healthy lifestyle options. The North Carolina Natural Products Association (NCNPA)is a non-profit organization dedicated to conserving, cultivating, and sustainably harvesting and processing North Carolina grown medicinal plants. The North Carolina Herb Association (NCHA) is a not-for-profit organization established in 1986 to promote the production, marketing, and the use of herbs and herb related products through education and research. The Asheville Herb Festival has become a meeting ground for these dedicated herbalists to get together, show off their latest plants and products, and share their knowledge. Over 25,000 herb lovers and visitors from across the Southeast come to the popular event each Spring. Herb farmers and herbalists build strong, family-like bonds in the neighborhood.

    Joe Hollis in herb workshop

    My favorite neighbor is Joe Hollis of Burnsville, 30 minutes away from Asheville. For the past 25 years, Joe has been engaged in developing an herb garden, Paradise Garden (also known as Mountain Gardens Herb), on several acres of mountain woodland. For him, his farm is both a place to live and a way to live. He says,

    "I am trying to act on deep instincts and archetypal images related to human habitat and niche as a way of providing a sustainable values system with sufficient appeal to challenge the dominant consumer culture."

    The Land

    Chi Herb Farm & Healing Retreat (CHF) is located in Asheville, near the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina. Asheville has been a renowned health resort destination in the United States, with its sulphur springs and mountain air, since the 19th century. In 1830, Sulphur Springs Hotel, the first health resort in the area, opened in West Asheville. In 1880, the railroad came to Asheville. It brought George W. Vanderbilt to these mountains, where he built the largest private residence in America, Biltmore Estate, still an operational resort and vineyard. Today, Asheville is becoming a Mecca for people around the country to enjoy and experience natural health, holistic care and sustainable agriculture.

    Clearing bushes on woodland

    Chi Herb Farm has two locations 12.5 miles apart. One is located in the Sulphur Springs area of West Asheville, a one-acre farm on which a 1915 farm house hosts a small acupuncture clinic. The other is a lodge on five acres of mountain woodland in Leicester, NC. The two locations can be viewed on the map by clicking this link.

    Bamboo by the creek

    The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina are among the oldest mountains on Earth. The landscape is full of superlatives: the highest mountain (Mount Mitchell), deepest gorge (Linville Gorge), and highest waterfall (Whitewater Falls) in the eastern United States; the oldest river in North America (the New River); and the two most visited National Parks in the country (the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park). The region is also blessed with a stunning diversity of plant and animal life; more, in fact, than the whole of Europe.

    But there is more to the Blue Ridge montains than just its mountains, for out of those mountains grew a rich cultural heritage as well. In November 2003, the U.S. Congress and the President designated the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, in recognition of the unique character, culture, and natural beauty of Western North Carolina and the significance its history to our nation. The birthplace of the Cherokee's advanced early civilization, the region is today home to the Eastern Band of the Cherokee, who continue to preserve many facets of their traditional culture. Beginning in the eighteenth century, the mountains received waves of European settlers. The relative isolation of mountain life helped the European settlers nourish and preserve many traditions, especially herbal medicine and natural health remedies. The area has become the center of handmade arts and crafts in America.

    The Climate

    Asheville has an ideal climate for herb farming with four unique, yet mild seasons. The average July temperature is a most pleasant 83 degrees, while the January lows tend to average a mild 27. Even during the coldest months, Asheville receives an average of only 16 inches of snow. Due to its elevation (2150 feet), it is in the enviable position of not having to endure the summer temperatures that stifle much of the south. Additionally, with the surrounding mountains as a barrier, the city experiences comparatively mild winters.

    Chinese ginseng grown by Joe Hollis in NC

    The Seeds

    We plan to plant our first crop of herbs in the Spring of 2008. Joe Hollis will supply seeds and stocks of Chinese herbs from his garden. Joe has been cultivating health-promoting herbs and studying Daoism for 35 years in Burnsville, NC. He now grows approximately 100 species of Chinese herbs. The picture at right is a mature Chinese genseng (Panax genseng), cultivated by Joe in his Mountain Gardens outside of Asheville.

    Opportunity for Apprentice

    Joe visited Miles at Chi Herb Farm, Nov'07

    We are looking for a number of full-time or part-time apprentices who have long-term career plans related to holistic health, natural farming or sustainable energy and the environment. In addition to work and study at Chi Herb Farm, apprentices will have opportinities to learn first-hand from many masters of herbal medicine and farming in the greater Asheville areas, including Joe Hollis. There will also be many state-of-the-art workshops and symposiums on organic farming, medicinal herbs and sustainability in Asheville.

    Applicants must be 18 years or older. We can provide room and board - basic staples, mostly from our local food coop. No stipend will be provided for apprentices. After graduation, qualified apprentices are welcome to apply for paid positions when available.

    If you are interested in being an apprentice, please email us at Send your resume, a cover Letter and a two-page essay describing your interest, purpose and goals. Thank you.

    Map of Chi Herb Farm Locations
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