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The Origin of Our Name - the Chi Garden

February 7, 2017

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The Origin of Our Name - the Chi Garden

February 7, 2017

The word "Chi", is romanized from a traditional Chinese or Japanese Kanji word "蕺", owing to its origin from a common and much loved vegetable herb in many Asian countries. It is called 蕺草 (jicao) in ancient Chinese or Yuxingcao in current Chinese, Dokudami in Japanese, and Zhe Ergen in local dialect Chinese in SW China.

 

Wiikipedia gives the following despription in terms of dokudami's popularity in Asian countries. 'Houttuynia cordata (simplified Chinese: 鱼腥草; traditional Chinese: 魚腥草; pinyin: yúxīng cǎo; literally: "fishy-smell herb"; Japanese: dokudami 蕺草; Vietnamese: giấp cá; Lao: pak kao tong ຜັກຄາວທອງ; Thai: phakkaawtong ผักคาวตอง, ผักคาวทอง, พลูคาว; Korean: 약모밀, 어성초. In Manipur, it is known as toningkok,, in Hmar as Aithang, in Meghalaya it is known as Jamyrdoh, in Mizo as Uithinthang, and in Paite as "Aithanglou", Hrama in Poula. In English, it is known as fish mint, lizard tail, chameleon plant, heartleaf, fishwort, and bishop's weed.[1] It is one of two species in the genus Houttuynia (the other being H. emeiensis[2]), a flowering plant native to Japan, Korea, southern China, and Southeast Asia, where it grows in moist, shady places."

 

The word "蕺草 JICAO" literally means "poison blocking plant” or "the weaponry defending against poison". People in Asia use its leaves as well as its roots in salad or stir fry. It is widely used as a herb in traditional Chinese medicine to reduce inflammation symptom. But In North America, only very small number of Asian groceries supply the plant leave as herb. Much to our surprise, in our trip to Stratford Ontario in 2014, we discovered that the same plant but with trio-color leave, was used in an ornamental garden.

 

We like the meaning of poison blocking. We have both worked as environmental professionals altogether for some thirty years, and are fully aware that all over the world, there are full of locations of hazards as the result of industrialization and economic development, often times such hazards and harms are unknown or with little support to communities falling direct victim to the hazards.  

 

The National Institute of Health (NIH) of the US, in 2014, did a referential information piece for researchers, as this plant shows important pharmacological activities - anti-mutagenic, anti-cancer, adjuvanticity, anti-obesity, hepatoprotective, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, free radical scavenging, anti-microbial, anti-allergic, anti-leukemic, chronic sinusitis and nasal polyps activities.

 

Because of the above, and our love for SW China local specialty food, We named our market garden after this plant.  The Chi Garden hopes that organic gardening, making use of diversity of plants the nature has to offer, as well as the plants knowledge from different cultures particularly the first nation people who know this part of the world and nature endowment long before other late comers, can become a nest nurturing good health, good soil stewardship, and good relationship building.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rather coincidentally, after we named our garden after the word "Chi", we got to know about the Chi-Cheemaun (Big Canoe in Ojibway first nation language) is the passenger and car ferry service traversing Lake Huron between Tobermory on Bruce Peninsula and South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island, Ontario (see the following picture from the company's website). We would like to pay our tribute to the first nation man, Donald Keeshig, of Neyaashiinigmiing who came up with this name.

 

 

 

Wherever possible, we will try keeping the rough Chinese translation so that our friends and family can understand what we are doing and thinking.

 

为什么是蕺菜园

 

我们一直想给菜园起个名字,希望是个简单,有东方含义,又英文讲得通的名字。另外,所在的农场创建了安省有名的一家公平贸易的羊毛产品企业,叫哲学家的羊毛。我们喜欢这个品牌背后的故事和哲学:自然、连接、公平、社区。

 

然后有一天,我们说名字的时候,说起了我们都喜欢的鱼腥草。维基上说,鱼腥草在中国、日本、韩国、越南等东亚国家都作为食用和药用。日语里管它叫“蕺草” JICAO,翻译过来就是poison blocking plant-可以抵御毒性的植物。蕺字中草字头之下的戈即是此意。

 

我们都喜欢这个可以防毒的意思-我们的菜园在很美的休伦湖边的inverhuron小村(2014年9月-2017年2月),是很多人向往的湖湾度假地。湖边的度假屋经常半年就订不到了。同时,直线距离两公里之外就是世界上最大的核电厂-布鲁斯电厂。加拿大有引以为傲的核电技术与安全记录,但是小村的居民们和附近这个装有核燃料和核废料的工厂打交道几十年,经济上受益良多的同时,又有过令人不快的经历,至今仍然在为一个地层深埋的核废料项目苦苦抗争。核是一个复杂的历史遗留问题,但是并非人类文明之傲。 无论我们身在何处,可以肯定的是,只要还在工业文明的范围内,某种对健康有害的物质可能就在我们身边。我们的农场菜园都将“负蕺”-持续地关注,为抗争注入柔软的“防毒”的力量。

 

Houttuynia cordata 在当地也叫变色龙草,chameleon plant,用于装饰庭院-花和叶子都好看。但是这个东方的植物的药用和食用功能,在亚洲蔬菜已经比较常见的北美洲,几乎没有人知道。大多伦多地区声称中国之外华人数量最多-有百万之众,可即便这里的的中国超市都很少见。这种植物苦、腥、但是回味甜,即便是中国人,有的极其喜欢,有的却是非常厌恶。

 

植物医学也逐渐认识鱼腥草的多种多样的医药功能。美国国立卫生院NIH去年做了一个文献汇集,列举了在不同国家,这种植物的多种药效,从anti-mutagenic抗基因突变, anti-cancer抗癌,  anti-obesity 抗肥胖, 到hepatoprotective 保肝, anti-viral抗病毒, anti-bacterial抗病句, anti-inflammatory消炎, free radical scavenging清除自由基。这些药效在西方医学中,很多正在通过实验室和临床实践做出证明。

 

但是蕺草Ji Cao的拼音,在英文中不好发音。于是我们借鉴了威妥玛拼音系统,翻译称为Chi Garden。相由心生。看到Chi Garden可能还会想到

- 吃。菜园嘛,没问题:);

- 气,气功的气。既然是哲学,少不了气啊。

- 还有,china的chi。

 

蕺草园的蕺字里有一个“戈”。这个隐藏的武器,也是这个小小的菜园的意思。爱护土地,修复环境,保护孩子的未来,建设公平的社区,成长我们自己的心灵家园-希望这个集东西方百草的蕺草园不断孕育这样的力量。

 

 

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