Around a week ago, I joined fellow Gentle World volunteers at our Vegan Educational Center in Northland, New Zealand.
For the past 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 educational 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.
This year, being the last of the team to arrive at our New Zealand location, I was fortunate to be greeted by gardens which (thanks to the hard work of those who arrived earlier) are 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, I am beyond grateful to be able to make myself a delicious green smoothie from a carefully hand-picked selection of nutritious home-grown greens – lacinato (dinosaur kale), young spinach, mizuma, parsley and bok choy… And I’m 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 those of us who reject the products of animal exploitation, veganic growing offers us a way forward into a future where we can avoid creating demand for products sourced from industries of misery, while enjoying nutritious, delicious, clean, healthy, vibrant food.
For more information about Gentle World and veganic growing, or to make a contribution to help support our free educational program, please visit our website: www.GentleWorld.org