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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 and vegan-organic farmers use no animal products or by-products, such as bloodmeal, fish products, bone meal, feces, or other animal-origin matter, because they view the production of these materials as either harming animals directly, or as 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.

Soil fertility is maintained by the use of green manures and composted vegetable matter and minerals. Some vegan gardeners supplement this with human urine (which provides nitrogen) and 'humanure' produced from compost toilets; others avoid the potential health risks of using human waste. Such wastes may technically be considered 'animal products', however many vegan organic growers (including the Vegan Organic Network) do not consider their usage unacceptable as there is unlikely to have been exploitation associated with their production.

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Vegan Organic Gardening

Many vegan organic (or "veganic") gardeners prepare soil for cultivation using the same time-honored 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: shallowly turning the soil's surface using one of numerous surface cultivating tools that are now available in the market place, including the popular Coleman surface-hoes developed by Eliot Coleman. Shallow tilling disturbs the soil less than deep turning and, combined with avoidance of soil compaction as described by O'Brien (see below), helps the soil maintain ecological balance. This minimizes the opportunities for soil diseases, plant diseases, and insect pests to become abundant.

O'Brien Veganic Gardening Method

The Kenneth Dalziel O'Brien Veganic Gardening Method is a distinct system that was 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'[1] in order to "denote a clear distinction between conventional chemical based systems and organic ones based on animal manures".[2] 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 Kenneth Dalziel O'Brien 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 Dalziel O'Brien 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.

From Veganic Gardening by Kenneth Dalziel O'Brien, page 16: "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 mositure 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 leared to a depth of 3 to 4 inches..."

Also part of the O'Brien method is minimal disturbance of the soil by tilling, use of compost, mulch, cover crops, and green manures, use of permanent raised beds and permanent hard-packed paths between them, laying out beds from north to south, putting plants in double rows or more so that not every row has a path on both sides.

Further reading/references

  • Growing Green - Organic Techniques for a Sustainable Future - Jenny Hall and Iain Tolhurst (Vegan Organic Network publishing, 2006, ISBN 0-9552225-0-8) - a handbook for stockfree growers, researchers and students. (Available in the US from Chelsea Green Publishing, ISBN 978-1-933392-49-3.)
  • Growing Our Own - Kathleen Jannaway (Movement for Compassionate Living publishing) - a practical guide to vegan organic gardening
  • Veganic Gardening- The Alternative System for Healthier Crops- Kenneth Dalziel O'Brien (Thorsons Publishing, 1986, ISBN 0-7225-1208-2) - a full exposition of the O'Brien veganic gardening system.

References

  1. ^ Dalziel O'Brien, Kenneth, Veganic Gardening, 1986, page 9
  2. ^ Dalziel O'Brien, Kenneth, Veganic Gardening, 1986, page 9

See also

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