Vegan flour on the rise!

The story so far – by George Walker

flour1When I saw David Graham’s article about VON flour in the summer 2013 issue of GGI (p.4) I immediately saw an opportunity I fancied a slice of. VON were looking to develop a product for a wider market than would typically be reached by produce from a vegan organic farm. I don’t quite remember my particular motives (power, money?), but I thought I was well placed in London to distribute such a product.

Organising a new batch of flour from the 2013 harvest has been quite straightforward. John Berry, the VON grower at Rufford Farm in Sussex who provided grain for the first run earlier this year, communicated grain availability at a preferential price at the beginning of September and offered as much as we wished for.

After harvest there were a couple of nervous weeks as John waited for the grain to dry. Meanwhile I contacted an organic farm in Suffolk on the off chance that they’d be willing to mill for us. I had no prior connection to this farm but found the contact amenable and they were willing to mill our grain.

flour2By the end of September John Berry had engaged the heater on his drying fan and got the grain dried below the magic 15% moisture threshold. The wheels set in motion, we collected 125kgs of wheat and transported it to Suffolk in a hatchback car. The grain was dropped off conveniently just a few miles from my parents’ house, and collected the week after in large flour sacks. The job done perfectly, a big thanks must go out to Mike and all at Maple Farm Organics, and to John & Denise Berry for growing the wonderful grain!

Our yield is 20 one kilo bags and about 158 half kilo bags. As you can see they look fetching with front and back labels designed between us in London and Manchester.

Test bakes with the Rufford Farm flour produced great results. Our first London outlets are Mother Earth health stores in North London  the Black Cat vegan café & shop in Hackney  and market stalls in Leytonstone and Walthamstow run by Organiclea.

We didn’t expect a wheat grown with no chemical assistance would perform so well with modern quick-yeast bread making, but the flour turned out a unique loaf with no crumbling and a lovely moistness which may be due to its freshness. Sourdough bread was equally satisfactory as were the delicious cakes.

flour3Establishing this product in stores has strong potential for expanding VON’s membership. GGI is a quality publication backed up by a range of printed and visual media, giving vegan organics an accessible body of knowledge with lively material on a variety of subjects. Exposure to a range of people buying food consciously and ethically enables us to give more people the opportunity to support and benefit from VON’s work.

Ask for veganically grown flour and other items when you shop. With the exceptions above it is most unlikely they will have any . You can then ask the manager if they will ask their suppliers for food veganically grown. You can refer them to VON if they query this.

 

VON 2013

Happy New Year to all our supporters.  Please check back later this month for all events VON will be present at. We are even planning a VON camp this year as it would be great to get as many members together as possible to share in our vision of vegan growing and living!

The Winter Growing Green International is available at £2 per copy plus postage, please email membership@veganorganic.net to get yourself a copy or join us and receive bi-annual issues, newsletters and more!

In friendship,

Jill.

VON membership secretary.

Garden Party Fun!

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SUCCESS FOR THE VON PARTY

Well, the Sun finally made an appearance, just in time for the VON Garden Party and sponsored walk! Hurrah! Being a yoga teacher, I had of course gone a bit mad with the sun salutations in hope of a pleasant day and we were not let down! This was perfect weather for the event, held on 22nd July, at  VON HQ,  Anandavan (Place of Peace), 58 High Lane, Manchester, the home of David and Jane in Chorlton, the co-founders of VON.

Fifteen walkers from 10 years upwards headed out to The Meadows for a 6 mile round journey taking in some lovely countryside, including Sale Marina.  Part of the walk is by the river Mersey whose banks are alive with the sound of music whistling through the reeds, where, some walkers claim, amongst the flora and fauna they spotted at least one Beatle – the one who is vegan. Others say that Carl Lewis, winner of nine Olympic gold medals,and named “Athlete of the 20th Century” joined in just to enjoy the company of fellow fit vegans.

More than £1000 was raised from the sale of food and donations for VON and Animal Aid. Over 100 people  supporting the event, revelled in the sun, music and our special quiz. Chorlton residents, known as the BOHOS (Bohemians), a cosmopolitan mix of social activists, revolutionaries, vegans, vegetarians and academics loved identifying the photos of 16 assorted faces who had in common that they were all vegan or vegetarian reformers.

There was much interest in the vegetable garden and the vegan organic method of cultivation. One lesson we continually learn is the importance of raising the awareness of vegans that the vegan food they purchase (unless they are fortunate to live near a stockfree organic farm) is grown from the by-products of the slaughterhouse and animal faeces. If not certified organic it is grown with synthetic fertilisers. Also, green manures were a new concept for some of our party guests. This enabled the purpose of VON and the reason for the fund raising event to be discussed.

Considering there were quite a lot of vegan and animal welfare events on in and around Manchester on the same day we had a great turn out. The children loved the games – throwing rolled up socks at a heap of stacked up tin cans, jenga, bats and balls and hula hoops and the adults happily joined in. Yet the highlight for the children was the circus apparatus and rickshaw rides generous donated by the all vegan Circus Zapparelli. I feared for the particular children in the back of the rickshaw I was driving as we meandered through Chorlton but my ringy bell and impromptu lollipop men and women did us proud.

The food, prepared and donated by Cherry and her team of willing helpers was a  real treat; a great selection of hot and cold vegan delights, including curry, hot dogs, bean salad, courgette and mint couscous to name a few. The cakes in particular were stunning (I still have to get three recipes for my mum who is still raving on about them!).

We had Mamu, working his magic as a Green Wood Worker and a host of talented musicians and singers such as Gareth, Belinda and Steve playing accordion. At one point I too felt like breaking into song yet that would possibly have cleared the garden!

Izaak, who collected over £200 from his sponsors, had a colourful stall with lots of well kept Lego for sale.  The bric-a- brac had my children coming home with building blocks, a set of old soldier skittles and 2 quaint, graceful, musical dolls. Loren, (a young veggie neighbour) made strikingly beautiful hand-made cards as her contribution to the event. I hope others picked up some interesting bits too.

Thanks to Lucy (of Australian banana farm fame see article in our latest Growing Green Magazine), the lions, tigers and zebras did indeed lie down with the lamb – and other animals. Her expertly face-painted children cavorted happily with everyone present. Lucy also contacted companies requesting donations for the Vegan Chocolate Tasting – many thanks for their generous support to Plamil, Venture Foods, Go Max Go Foods, Veganstore.co.uk, also thanks to Panda Liquorice and Good Hemp for donating Good Oil. And of course well done Lucy for her persuasive and friendly phone calls.

My Mum and Dad came to the event too, not vegan, and said what a fabulous time they had, with good people, excellent food and yes, that thing we’d forgotten existed – sun!

I burnt my shoulders and ate too much cake but who cares, I had fun, my family had fun, I think pretty much everyone had fun. And you know what, not a single animal was hurt, abused or endured suffering for our wonderful afternoon.

Daniel, VON events organiser, thanks all those who so generously gave their time in helping make this such an enjoyable event. Also to the sponsors of Izaak and Richard.  As Izaak said – I’m 10 years old and have been a vegan for 10 years – if you would like to sponsor me and help VON, I’ll do another walk,  It’s not too late!

Farm Visits

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VON Visits 2012

Here are details of farmers and growers’ open days and other events during the next few months where VON members would be most welcome to come along too:

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Sunday 5 August 2012

Fir Tree community Growers, Fir Tree Farm, Pimbo Road, King’s Moss, St Helens WA11 8RG.

‘Market Garden Britain’ open day; 2pm; refreshments available.

Contact: Jenny and Keith Griggs 01744 894284; www.climatefriendlyfood.org.uk.

 

Saturday 18 August 2012

Avalach Centre for Plant Study, Drimlabarra Herb Farm, Kildonan, Isle of Arran KA27 8SE.

Open day at VON-supported herb farm; 12 midday; refreshments available. (Easily accessible by boat from Ardrossan  then island buses).

Contact: Keith and Maureen Roberts 01770 820338; www.veganherbal.com.

 

Saturday 15 September 2012

Growing with Grace, Clapham Nursery, Clapham, Lancaster LA2 8ER.

Tours of market garden at 11am, 1pm and 3pm; refreshments available.

Contact: 01524 251723; www.growingwithgrace.org.uk.

 

Date yet to be confirmed

Oakcroft Gardens, Cross o’th Hill, Malpas, Cheshire SY14 8DH.

12 midday; refreshments available.

Contact: Tim Carey 07726 266501; www.oakcroft.org.uk

(Tim hopes to have an Open Day later this summer but no firm date yet.)

 

Any time by arrangement

Scilly Organics, Sandy Lane Cottage, St Martin’s, Isles of Scilly TR25 0QN.

Jonathan Smith of Scilly Organics welcomes visitors. Get in touch if you are in the area.

Contact: Jonathan on 01720 423663; www.scillyorganics.com.

 

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Other visits may be offered at a later date.