Chai-Na-Ta Farm sold

A Kamloops businessman has purchased the one-time Canadian headquarters of an agricultural company producing "green gold" ginseng for the Asian market.

The Cherry Creek farm that served as Chai-Na-Ta's national office is one the last visible reminders of the Interior's briefly profitable ginseng industry, when much of the landscape a decade ago was covered in the signature black cloth.

The property was listed on the market in spring 2007 for $2.9 million. It includes a home, office and 32 hectares of land.

The purchaser is Brad Plowe, who co-owns Plowe Power Systems Ltd., a utility construction firm. Plowe and his wife, Jodi, intend to live at the farm and experiment with hay and food production.

A local entrepreneur also plans to set up a farmers' market to sell produce sourced from the region.

"We're just going to try to maintain it as it is with hay and maybe try to grow some vegetables," said Plowe, who grew up on a hobby farm and worked on a ranch as a young man.

"Everything is very preliminary."

Linda Cline is an entrepreneur who owns a convenience store in Williams Lake, along with her husband Barrie, a realtor specializing in ranch sales. She intends to open a market operation at the farm beginning in May next year, focusing on the 100-mile diet.

"I want to work within that 100-mile range," said Cline, who intends to source produce from Cherry Creek, Walhachin, Ashcroft, Kamloops and Armstrong as well as from Kamloops.

The focus will eventually be on produce from the farm, which will be overseen by the current farm manager. Cline intends to change the façade of the Quonset huts beside the Trans-Canada Highway, giving them a western theme for a storefront.

"It will be daily (operation), seven days a week," Cline said. "We'll be open this May."

Among the ideas is a trail linking the Clines' property on Beaton Road with Rodeo Drive and the farm "so people (from Cherry Creek) can come in by horseback and pick up groceries by saddlebags," she said.

"If that happens we'll see if we can make something work for Tobiano."

Chai-Na-Ta is now based in Richmond and trades as a penny stock on the over-the-counter bulletin board.

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