Many of our visitors are vegans who want to learn how to grow their own food without the use of animal products. At both of our visitor center locations (Hawaii and New Zealand) our demonstration gardens show the principles of veganic growing in action. It’s always a joy to give people the opportunity to reconnect with where the food we eat comes from, especially since the veganic cultivation of plant foods is a truly beautiful and miraculous thing to witness and take part in.
Our head gardener in New Zealand, MERLIN “Magic” REES, is a professional horticulturalist, former Organic Inspection Certifier, and co-founder of the Far North Organics Association in New Zealand. He has been asked on several occasions to give presentations about veganic growing, and spoke at the World Vegan Summit in California in 2016.
We also have a whole section of our website dedicated to veganic gardening, and we’ve published a number of articles describing some of the non-vegan aspects of traditional organic farming, including the concerning relationship between organic growing and the animal industry, and some of the very troubling ingredients that can be found in traditional organic fertilizers.
For the home gardener or farmer, composting is an easy practice that can be done on any scale, from very small to very large. In any growing situation, worms are a gardener’s best friend, as they till and feed the soil as they go about their business. Vegan gardeners choose not rely on worm castings from farms that keep worms in unnatural conditions, but we do take every opportunity to naturally increase the worm populations in our gardens, such as by giving them lots of plant material to eat.
If a person has space in his or her garden to grow plants specifically for fertilizer (and/or as herbal medicinals for people, such as nettles or comfrey) these can be a great way to feed the soil, as they can be simply laid in a garden to decompose directly into the beds, or made into a compost tea. Hay mulch is another easy soil helper, as home gardeners may not have acres and acres to mow and rake, but any lawn will provide some amount of grass clippings. This cut grass can be mulched on or around garden beds to keep weeds down while time turns it miraculously into fertile soil, without the need for predigestion by a grass-feeding animal.
Green manures made from nitrogen-fixing cover crops can be grown in the winter and be tilled in at springtime, if you have that kind of time. And for those seeking quick, time-saving methods, there are supplements (some pre-made) that are available for purchase and can simply be added to the soil, such as garden-grade spirulina, Effective Microorganisms (EM), and even pre-made veganic formulas that can be ordered online or bought at a garden or farm store.
As the veganic (Vegan Organic or Stockfree Organic) movement continues to grow, many online resources have become available for new and experienced gardeners and farmers who are interested in these sustainable and ethical growing methods. Although Gentle World has a growing wealth of information for beginning veganic gardeners, there are also three main sites that we would recommend to any new or experienced vegan organic grower:
- The Vegan Organic Network (VON) is a European-based organization, aiming to specify the methods and standards for stockfree organic growing and to enable growers to become certified using these standard, as well as to encourage vegan-organic cultivation around the world, on a small scale as well as farm scale growing. Amongst other great veganic resources, the VON website hosts a veganic farms directory. They also have a Facebook page.
- Stockfree Organic Services has a panel of experienced farmers and growers to answer questions and discuss any issues that readers might raise. They welcome questions from farmers and growers who are already stockfree, or are considering converting. “We aim to provide articles that provide a cross section of the pros and cons of growing in different countries, climates and soil types; in protected and open environments and both field and market garden scale.”
- TheVeganic Agriculture Network (VAN) aims to bring more information about veganic techniques and principles to a North American audience. Their mission is to connect people who are interested in veganic agriculture so they can share knowledge and ideas.
- The Vegan Organic Gardening Facebook group is a 1500 member strong community with lots of activity.
Photo by Francesco Gallarotti, Unsplash