By Monica Pierce
Photos Emma Thompson
In 2013, when Chantel Wiles’ three-year-old daughter began suffering from an on-going flu-like illness, the young mother grew concerned as doctors brushed it off as reflux or stress. Determined to find the root cause of the mysterious symptoms, Wiles consulted a holistic nutritionist who taught her the basics of natural health. As she began to change her diet and pay closer attention to the source of their food, Wiles’ daughter’s symptoms and general health improved.
Over the following years, Wiles became passionate about understanding the origin of the food and products we consume every day and how they affect our overall health. Her mindset shifted from passively accepting what grocery stores offered to critically thinking about what food and products she might be able to make herself. Since then, Wiles has taught herself how to make numerous items, from sourdough bread and yogurt, to hand soap and cough syrup. It has given her a sense of comfort, confidence and satisfaction to be able to make so much of what her family needs, naturally.
To source the ingredients and materials for this passion, Wiles dreamt of one day having her own small farm. This dream came true last year when Wiles moved to a one-acre property in Eagle with her husband, their three children ages nine, three and four months, plus a few chickens, 14 fruit trees, four walnut trees and plans for goats next spring.
With an abundance of produce suddenly on her hands and not being one to waste, Wiles quickly learned how to can and freeze the food. She takes great joy in being able to control how her family’s food is processed and stored, such as how much sugar she puts into the canned fruit compared to the level of sugar found in the syrup of store-bought cans.
In order to utilize all of the food now being generated by her small farm, Wiles has also learned a number of new recipes, such as using their surplus of walnuts to make the Italian liquor, Nocino.
In addition to the health benefits received by sourcing and making much of their own food, Wiles is grateful to be able to impart this appreciation for food onto her children. This last summer, over the span of weeks that the family was growing carrots in their garden, Wiles’ three-year-old son was perplexed by his mother telling him the carrots were growing. He couldn’t see any evidence of growth since he didn’t understand they were growing underground. When it came time to pick them, Wiles realized her son’s epiphany when she saw the amazed expression on his face as he pulled the mysterious carrot out of the ground.
With a bachelor’s degree in Business from the University of Phoenix and in the process of completing the Master Herbalist and Holistic Health Practitioner program through Genesis School of Natural Health, Wiles is looking to expand the benefits her passion has brought to her family to share them with the larger community.
Through local opportunities like helping manage the Boise Natural Parenting Facebook group and having recently joined the Idaho Breastfeeding Coalition on a taskforce to recognize local businesses who support breastfeeding mothers, Wiles is excited by the possibilities her passion has in store for her.
She hopes to one day open a wellness center with her mother, local Eagle resident and Reiki master, Julie McCallson, where the pair might offer a full set of natural wellness-related resources and services to locals.
For stories and tips for a natural, healthy lifestyle, visit Wiles’ blog at crunchychaos.blog.