Vegan organic gardening
Vegan organic gardening and farming is the organic cultivation and production of food crops and other crops with a minimal amount of exploitation or harm to any animal. Vegan gardening and stock-free farming methods use no animal products or by-products, such as bloodmeal, fish products, bone meal, feces, or other animal-origin matter, because the production of these materials is viewed as either harming animals directly, or being associated with the exploitation and consequent suffering of animals. Some of these materials are by-products of animal husbandry, created during the process of cultivating animals for the production of meat, milk, skins, furs, entertainment, labor, or companionship; the sale of by-products decreases expenses and increases profit for those engaged in animal husbandry, and therefore helps support the animal husbandry industry, an outcome most vegans find unacceptable.
Forest gardening is a fully plant-based organic food production system based on woodland ecosystems, incorporating fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, vines and perennial vegetables. Making use of companion planting, these can be intermixed to grow in a succession of layers, to replicate a woodland habitat. Forest gardening can be viewed as a way to recreate the Garden of Eden. The three main products from a forest garden are fruit, nuts and green leafy vegetables.
Robert Hart adapted forest gardening for temperate zones during the early 1960s. Robert Hart began with a conventional smallholding at Wenlock Edge in Shropshire. However, following his adoption of a raw vegan diet for health and personal reasons, Hart replaced his farm animals with plants. He created a model forest garden from a small orchard on his farm and intended naming his gardening method ecological horticulture or ecocultivation. Hart later dropped these terms once he became aware that agroforestry and forest gardens were already being used to describe similar systems in other parts of the world.
Permaculture is an approach to designing human settlements and agricultural systems modeled on the relationships found in nature. It is based on three core values; "Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share." Animals are used as a common design element in permaculture. For example, chickens can be used as a method of weed control and for the production of eggs, meat and fertilizer. Bill Mollison, who coined the term permaculture, stated that "animals represent a valid method of storing inedible vegetation as food."
Vegan permaculture (also known as veganic permaculture, veganiculture or vegaculture) avoids the use of domesticated animals. It is essentially the same as permaculture except for the addition of a fourth core value; "Animal Care." Zalan Glen, a raw vegan, proposes that vegaculture should emerge out of permaculture in the same way veganism split from vegetarianism in the 1940s. Vegan permaculture recognizes the importance of free-living animals, not domesticated animals, to create a balanced ecosystem.
The veganic gardening method is a distinct system developed by Rosa Dalziell O'Brien, Kenneth Dalziel O'Brien and May E. Bruce, although the term was originally coined by Geoffrey Rudd as a contraction of vegetable organic in order to "denote a clear distinction between conventional chemical based systems and organic ones based on animal manures". The O'Brien system's principal argument is that animal manures are harmful to soil health rather than that their use involves exploitation of and cruelty to animals.
The system employs very specific techniques including the addition of straw and other vegetable wastes to the soil in order to maintain soil fertility. Gardeners following the system use soil-covering mulches, and employ non-compacting surface cultivation techniques using any short-handled, wide-bladed, hand hoe. They kneel when surface cultivating, placing a board under their knees to spread out the pressure, and prevent soil compaction. Kenneth Dalziel O'Brien published a description of his system in Veganic Gardening, the Alternative System for Healthier Crops:
The veganic method of clearing heavily infested land is to take advantage of a plant's tendencies to move its roots nearer to the soil's surface when it is deprived of light. To make use of this principle, aided by a decaying process of the top growth of weeds, etc., it is necessary to subject such growth to heat and moisture in order to speed up the decay, and this is done by applying lime, then a heavy straw cover, and then the herbal compost activator…The following are required: Sufficient new straw to cover an area to be cleared to a depth of 3 to 4 inches.
The O'Brien method also advocates minimal disturbance of the soil by tilling, the use of cover crops and green manures, the creation of permanent raised beds and permanent hard-packed paths between them, the alignment of beds along a north-south axis, and planting in double rows or more so that not every row has a path on both sides. Use of animal manure is prohibited.
There are many other methods currently used and under development.
Soil fertility is maintained by the use of green manures, cover crops, green wastes, composted vegetable matter, and minerals. Some vegan gardeners may supplement this with human urine from vegans (which provides nitrogen) and 'humanure' from vegans, produced from compost toilets. Generally only waste from vegans is used because of the expert recommendation that the risks associated with using composted waste are acceptable only if the waste is from animals or humans having a largely herbivorous diet.
Veganic gardeners may prepare soil for cultivation using the same method used by conventional and organic gardeners of breaking up the soil with hand tools and power tools and allowing the weeds to decompose. Shallow cultivation is also becoming popular among such gardeners; this disturbs the soil less than deep turning and, combined with avoidance of soil compaction as described by O'Brien, helps the soil maintain ecological balance.
Some vegans base their dietary preferences on the fact that animal products are less "eco-efficient" (require more overall inputs vs. outputs) than analogous plant products, therefore wasteful of space, fertility. water,etc. There is some controversy over whether animal labour (e.g. horse power) is preferable to fossil-powered machinery, which ultimately is even more unsustainable. Some of the veganic systems eschew tillage altogether and thus avoid the controversy.
- Deep ecology
- Environmental vegetarianism
- Movement for Compassionate Living
- Plants for a Future
- Stock-free agriculture
- "Different ways to garden veganically". Veganic Agriculture Network. 7 August 2011.
- "Growing without cruelty - the vegan organic approach". The Vegan Society.
- Kip Bellairs (7 May 2011). "Forest Gardening in a Nutshell". Veganic Agriculture Network.
- Graham Bell (2004). The Permaculture Garden, p.129, "The Forest Garden…This is the original garden of Eden. It could be your garden too."
- Also see Rob Hopkins (foreword), Martin Crawford (2010). Creating a Forest Garden: Working with Nature to Grow Edible Crops, p.10 "Perhaps what Hart created was the closest to what we imagine the Garden of Eden as being."
- Helmut Lieth (1989). Tropical Rain Forest Ecosystems: Biogeographical and Ecological Studies, p.611 "Important food plants, such as sago-producing palms, fruit-producing trees and medicinal plants were purposefully aggregated and tended in convenient places. Eventually, the forest garden, a kind of Garden of Eden, emerged. These jungle gardens on good soils of easy access required little maintenance and hardly any hard work."
- Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier (2005). Edible Forest Gardens - Volume One, p.1
- Robert Hart (1996). Forest Gardening: Cultivating and Edible Landscape, p.80
- Patrick Whitefield (2002). How to Make a Forest Garden. p. 5.
- Robert Hart (1996). Forest Gardening. p. 45.
- Robert Hart (1996). Forest Gardening. pp. 28 and 43.
- "Introduction to Permaculture - Compatibility with Veganic Agriculture". Veganic Agriculture Network.
- Bill Mollison (1988). Permaculture: A Designers' Manual. p. 5. "Deer, rabbits, sheep, and herbivorous fish are very useful to us, in that they convert unusable herbage to acceptable human food. Animals represent a valid method of storing inedible vegetation as food."
- Zalan Glen (2009). From Permaculture to Vegaculture. The Movement for Compassionate Living - New Leaves (issue no.93). pp. 18–20.
- Dalziel O'Brien, Kenneth, Veganic Gardening, 1986, page 9
- Veganic Gardening, Kenneth Dalziel O'Brien, page 16
- "North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Soil Preparation".
References and further reading
- Growing Green: Organic Techniques for a Sustainable Future by Jenny Hall and Iain Tolhurst. Vegan Organic Network publishing, 2006, ISBN 0-9552225-0-8. Available in the US from Chelsea Green Publishing, ISBN 978-1-933392-49-3.
- Growing Our Own: A Guide to Vegan Gardening by Kathleen Jannaway. Movement for Compassionate Living publishing, 1987. ASIN B001OQ7G8S.
- Plants for a Future: Edible and Useful Plants for a Healthier World by Ken Fern. Hampshire: Permanent Publications, 1997. ISBN 1-85623-011-2.
- Veganic Gardening- The Alternative System for Healthier Crops by Kenneth Dalziel O'Brien. Thorsons Publishing, 1986, ISBN 0-7225-1208-2.
- Vegan Organic Network
- Veganic Agriculture Network (North America)
- Towards Common Ground; Permaculture and the Vegan Way
- Photos of vegan garden, compost piles