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About Innisfree Farm
& Botanic Garden

Founded in 2009 by Dr. Thierry Vrain, a soil biologist, and his wife Chanchal Cabrera, a medical herbalist and horticulture therapist, Innisfree Farm & Botanic Garden has evolved over the years to what you see today.

In 2013 we became certified and registered with Botanic Gardens Conservation International, and in 2023 we became designated as a Botanical Sanctuary with the United Plant Savers.

The Mission Statement of Innisfree is to:

  • provide educational, recreational, cultural, and health-promoting experiences to visitors of all ages and all backgrounds

  • support and facilitate the retention and transmission of traditional knowledge of horticultural and agricultural practices

  • support and facilitate the recognition, practice, and teaching of Indigenous herbal medicines and traditional healing practices

  • support and facilitate the physical, social, and spiritual rehabilitation of individuals through educational, recreational, horticultural and cultural activities

  • provide a conservation sanctuary for native medicinal plants of British Columbia

  • provide a living and preserved seed bank of medicinal and food plants

About the Founders

Dr. Thierry Vrain

Born and raised in Paris, France, he did undergraduate studies in Caen in Normandie and moved to Montréal to teach plant physiology. He then completed graduate studies in Raleigh (North Carolina) and worked 30 years in research for the Canadian Department of Agriculture. 

From a soil biologist, expert at chemical control of nematodes, he became a genetic engineer, and finished as head of a department of Molecular Biology. Dr. Vrain retired over 20 years ago, but he started again after retirement with a mission to educate about the chemical contamination of food and feed from sprayed GMO crops and cereals.

Dr. Vrain has lectured extensively across Canada and the USA on this topic, and currently is spending most of his energy in the gardens here at Innisfree Farm & Botanic Garden. He also enjoys growing and sharing food, cooking, and teaching about Life and how we are all related. He is a guest instructor in Apprenticeship program with Chanchal Cabrera, teaching about soil science and biofilia.

Chanchal Cabrera 

A member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (UK) since 1987, Chanchal has been in clinical practice continuously since then, offering herbal healing to thousands of patients. 

Chanchal obtained her MSc in herbal medicine at the University of Wales in 2003 and she was the faculty chair in Botanical Medicine at the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine for a number of years. She serves on the board of advisors of Dominion Herbal College in Burnaby, on the editorial board of Medical Herbalism clinical newsletter and she publishes widely in professional journals and lectures internationally on medical herbalism, nutrition and health. 

Chanchal is the author of the book Fibromyalgia – A Journey Toward Healing published by Contemporary Books and her new 2023 book, Holistic Cancer Care: An Herbal Approach to Preventing Cancer, Helping Patients Thrive during Treatment, and Minimizing the Risk of Recurrence published by Storey Publishing.

She is a certified Master Gardener and a certified Horticulture Therapist. Chanchal is trained in Inquiry-Based Science Education and holds diplomas in Botanic Garden Management and in Botanic Garden Education from Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (London). In 2009 Chanchal was honoured with a Fellowship in the National Institute of Medical Herbalists for service to the profession over 25 years. 

Alongside Yarrow Willard and Colleen Emery, she helps organize the online Canadian Herb Conference, the biennial Vancouver Island Herb Gathering, and the biennial Kootenay Herb Gathering. Chanchal also teaches an in-person summertime apprenticeship program at Innisfree Farm and online classes for various herbal medicine schools, and she is on the board of directors for the Canadian Council of Herbalist Associations and the British Columbia Herbalists Association.

Why we chose the name “Innisfree”

The name Innisfree refers to the poem by Yeats describing his dream of a peaceful place in Nature while he is stuck in the city.

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), was an Irish poet, dramatist and prose writer. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923.

Below is a recording of Yeats reading the poem.

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.