Around a week ago, the last of the Gentle World volunteers arrived at our Vegan Educational Center in Northland, New Zealand, officially kicking off the 11th summer in our Southern Hemisphere Center, which we call Shangri-La.
For over ten years, our dedicated team has spent New Zealand summers transforming a magnificent piece of countryside into an international site for vegan education, where people now come from all over the world to learn about the ‘whys and hows’ of vegan living.
As part of our program, visitors have the opportunity to learn how to grow their own food… Not just organically, which is without the use of chemicals, but veganically, which is without the use of any animal by-products. This means we don’t use any animal manures, blood and bone, fish emulsion, or slaughterhouse sludge; all of which are considered acceptable by organic growing standards.
Although many organic growers tend to be skeptical about the feasibility of growing food on a large-scale without the use of any animal products, there are many sites around the world (especially in the UK), where veganic farming is occurring on a commercial basis. These success stories provide evidence that veganic growing is indeed the way of the future, and we’ve been proudly doing it here in Shangri-La since the year 2000.
This year, by the time the final few arrived at our New Zealand location, we were fortunate to be greeted by gardens which (thanks to the hard work of those who arrived earlier) were already well on their way to being highly productive, with our nearby salad garden producing many different types of greens for the nutritious salads we enjoy daily.
Every morning, we make ourselves delicious green smoothies from a carefully hand-picked selection of nutritious home-grown greens – lacinato (dinosaur kale), young spinach, mizuma, parsley and bok choy… And we’re looking forward to when the next crops start to be harvested, when we’ll be able to add arugula, totsoi, and veganic celery to the mix!
Later in the summer we’ll also be enjoying our own carrots and beets, cucumbers, sweet corn, tomatoes, butternut squash, potatoes and sweet Walla Walla onions, and (if all goes well), even our own watermelons!
Growing, harvesting and enjoying home-grown food can be one of the great joys in life, because it provides us with a connection to nature that is much-needed in these modern times. It also offers us the opportunity to tune into the great miracle that plant-foods represent – the metamorphosis that turns energy from the soil, water, air and sunlight into food we can eat without harming sentient beings.
When we grow food veganically, it enables us to provide nourishment for ourselves without sacrificing our most deeply-held values. For vegans, who reject the use of animals for food or for any other exploitative purpose, veganic growing represents the way forward into a future where we can avoid the use of products sourced from industries of misery, while enjoying nutritious, delicious, clean, healthy, vibrant food.
Keep your eyes open for regular updates from Shangri-La, in which we’ll be including some veganic gardening tips and tricks…