I was fortunate to attend a workshop recently with Will Bonsall on the foundations of veganic agriculture. This is a natural growing method which uses no chemicals and only vegan inputs.
Many people are not aware that mass produced organic agriculture is heavily connected to the animal agriculture industry as waste from factory farms is often converted into compost. This can include cow, pig, and chicken manure as well as feathers, hooves, blood, and bone meal. Other non-vegan soil amendments include shells from lobster and other crustaceans, fish, and worm castings (manure). While animals such as worms, insects, and organisms in the soil are essential components of a healthy ecosystem, as veganic gardener Will Bonsall would say, the cultivated, caged, and castrated kind are not. His book, Will Bonsall’s Radical Guide to Radical, Self-Reliant Gardening, is the bible of veganic gardening and an essential read for anyone interested in learning more about the topic.
Over a dozen of us gathered in the home of Amie Hamlin, the founder of the Coalition for Healthy School Food in Ithaca, NY. She worked together with vegan registered dietician George Eisman and his wife Claire Holzner to coordinate this event. Sadly, George passed away just shortly before this workshop was held, but we could feel his presence with us through the delicious plant-based menu he helped design as well as the joy of the natural world we all shared.
If you like to dig in the dirt, I recommend converting a sunny spot in your yard into a veganic garden. This way you will not only be growing fresh produce for yourself, but you will also be forming a deeper connection with Mother Nature. Even if you only have space for a few pots of herbs, this is still a way to get vital plant energy into your body.
There is nothing healthier than eating fruits and vegetables that have been picked fresh from your own garden, warmed by the sun, fortified with natural soil amendments, and free from harmful pesticides, herbicides, and other toxic chemicals. Most importantly, a veganic garden does not use any animal products in the process.
Natural ecosystems depend on the process of decomposition to build humus, a rich, nutrient dense compound that supports plant life. This can be achieved by using Mother Nature’s natural resources, such as dried leaves and grass clippings. Start a compost pile, feed it with a mix of plant-based kitchen scraps and leaf debris, and you’ll have the formula for good compost.
Amendments such as seaweed, rice hulls, corn gluten, and “green manure” like clover and buckwheat, can be incorporated into the soil to further enrich it. Over many seasons of nurturing the soil with lawyers of these components, you will have a thriving veganic garden. Start small (a simple 6” x 10” plot will do), then expand as your interest and love of gardening grows.
Veganic gardening utilizes natural inputs that enhance the soil, benefit the plants, improve vitamin and mineral content of plants fruits and vegetables, and nourish our bodies. It is a truly sustainable ecosystem that can save our planet.