Celtic Herbal Medicine Intensive Course

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June 12-25th 2017 A 14 day intensive on Celtic Herbal Medicine. This includes 4 days of visits to Arran’s special and sacred sites interspersed between the teaching days. We are delighted to announce that the wonderful Irish Herbalist and medical scholar Danny O’Rawe is joining us as guest speaker for the Solstice celebrations. Other special guests to be announced. This intensive has its zenith on the 21st with a Celtic Fire Ceremony for the Summer Solstice. Please see www.veganherbal.com for details.


Vegan Abundance Festival 2016!

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Our first vegan abundance festival was a great success with over 1000 visitors! Hulme Community Garden Centre which is Stockfree (Vegan Organic) proved to be a great venue to show case some great produce from the North Wests Vegan Organic Growers including: Climate Friendly Foods, Growing with Nature, the Kindling Trust, Debdale Park and Growing with Grace. The hot food from Tea Time Collective and Gillie’s went down really well, (as usual!) along with the vegan pizzas in the sites brand new outdoor pizza oven! Bread Uprising were so popular, they had to bake more bread and have it delivered during the day! The willow weaving workshop was a great addition to the event, along with henna, face painting and our brilliant performers in our quirky wooden stage! The stalls were busy all day. The talks room ran smoothly and valuable info was shared, the food demo with Sophie was particularly fun! And people really enjoyed exploring the beautiful site, with all it’s hidden nooks and crannies. We hope you had as much fun as us and hopefully we’ll be able to do the same next year! 😀

More photo’s available here: https://sway.com/s/VZlUSw3X2KMEXyW8/embed

Our next event is the VON Pop-up Vegan Christmas Fair! https://www.facebook.com/events/178001922643793/

Snowdon Vegan Cake Party 2016!

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The Snowdon Vegan Cake Party 2016 was a huge success! Friends were made, food was eaten, we danced the night away and most importantly, a mountain was climbed and money was raised for our charity, it was a really fantastic weekend!



VON Manchester Vegan Fair 2016

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VON Manchester Vegan Fair 28th May 2016-

Wow-what a great sunny day for the 3rd annual Manchester Vegan Fair, and this year more people came than ever, some revisiting and plenty who were new to veganism.

The queues stretched around the block an hour before the doors opened at 11am, with some people professing to have camped all night, and the first lucky 100 received  goody bags. We were blessed with sunshine all day and visitors streamed in non-stop until end of the event at 5pm.

There were 80 stalls with cuisine from around the world, lots of campaign groups, vegan products and services,  the V-Ice ice cream stall had lots of happy customers and many stalls sold out J.

Des’s Solar Powered Stage was host to a great line up of entertainers, including the Spokes bicycle dance troupe, Wolf Productions featuring acrobatic skills, and Circus Zapparelli delivered circus performances and workshops.

The festival was a great platform for some of Manchester’s premier vegan musicians and bands keeping everyone’s feet tapping to the vegan beat and good vibrations, and children were thrilled on the Rickshaw Rides.

Our talks room had a great variety of speakers including VON founder David Graham and Jenny Hall (Vegan Organic farmer) talking about Vegan Organic market and forest gardening and how to create alternative food systems.

On the main stage Vegan speakers from campaign groups got the message across that our event is about standing up for social justice for all and that animals have the right to life and not to be interfered with and vegan organic growing is the key to bringing an end to animal agriculture.

A big thank you to all our volunteers, stall holders, entertainers and the 3000 visitors who made the event a great success.


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Click below and then click ‘VOTE FOR PROJECT’ at the top right of the page.




Speaking of Human-Based Research (SOHBR) is a public relations organisation founded on a voluntary basis in 2014. SOHBR promotes the work and achievements of underfunded medical researchers who develop and use pioneering human-relevant medical research methods.


The Problem

Modern scientists condemn the traditional system of researching cures for chronic diseases like cancer describing it as ‘BROKE’ and yet these traditional methods still receive billions of pounds of funding even though the science community admit they are ineffective. Whereas pioneering researchers using methods that are effective, because they are relevant to humans such as ‘organs on a chip’ and human tissue tests, are starved of funding.

These pioneers are capable of making cures a reality, for patients of cancer and other chronic diseases but lack of funding is delaying their breakthroughs.


The Solution

Speaking of Human Based Research will address this imbalance of funding, by raising the profile of innovative human-relevant/human-based researchers to gain public and private investor attention.

We will promote their work in the media, their stories and breakthroughs as well as offer media coaching and training in fund pitching.

The overarching vision of SOHBR benefits all;  Patients, Animals and the UK economy.


Thank you for reading.


Volunteers needed in Greece

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Information on Relief Effort in Greece

We have 3 teams in Greece at present. Athens, Chios Island and now Idomeni.

We have recently arrived in Idomeni at the Greek border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia where the number of refugees is rising daily due to European countries closing borders or dramatically limiting the number of refugees going through. It’s estimated there are between 12,000 – 14,000 people here.

The longer people can stay the better, 2 weeks minimum to be effective. We will provide more details later.

Chios Island
On Chios Island we have a kitchen team of 6-8 people making two meals a day to feed approx. 400 to 1200 refugees, sometimes more. The numbers do keep changing. We have a house rented with basic facilities for volunteers and a good kitchen set up run by chef Ifty Patel of the People’s Street Kitchen.

In Athens we have a house rented for volunteers for a year and a team who distribute food at the port. Mostly breakfast fruits and nuts, and sometimes cooked food or food parcels. We also help out at a large warehouse full of donated relief items for refugees.

The situation changes often depending on numbers of refugees arriving and departing but overall it is getting worse as more arrive than depart.

See links below for more background info.

Volunteers needed:

  1. We need volunteers who can immediately go to Idomeni, in northern Greece to assist with the desperate situation there. They can either fly in to Thessaloniki and meet the other team members who are there, or fly in to Athens then take a bus or train to Idomeni.
  2. We need volunteers in Athens to help with food distribution and  other tasks currently going on there to help alleviate the crisis for the refugees living in the port terminals. Preferably volunteers will be able to make their own way from the airport to Piraeus Railway Station on bus X96 http://www.athensairportbus.com/en/timetable/x96airporttopiraeusport.htmland can be met at the station, which is near the home of initiates. Alternatively, we can meet the volunteers in Terminal 3 at the information desk of the arrival hall.
  3. We need some long-term kitchen helpers and chefs on Chios Island, ideally staying 1 month, or at least 3 weeks to be effective

Ideal qualities for volunteers:
•    Language:

  • English speakers, or if coming with a group ideally at least one or two people speaking English
  • Speaking French, Arabic or Greek is an advantage
  • Skills:
  • At least one of the team members with experience as chef or kitchen helper would be ideal
  • Experienced drivers needed
  • Good health
    •    Sincere practitioner

Flexibility and a sense of humour are important too! Things change a LOT and are not always predictable in this unstable situation!

Volunteers who will fly to Athens will be briefed at our relief-work base. Volunteers who fly in to Thessaloniki will be met by our team there.

Food and accommodation will be provided at all relief work areas. We don’t have beds to sleep on, so please bring whatever you need to be comfortable. Please try to reduce your luggage to the minimum though, as space is limited. Please also bring your yellow vests for relief work.

All volunteers need to meditate at least 4hrs/day.

Many, many thanks.

WML & B,
Love All Refugees Team


For more information on our relief work in Athens and Chios island, please check:
https://news.godsdirectcontact.net/lia-reports/our-korean-relief-team-assisting-refugees-in-greece/ (news magazine website)
https://www.facebook.com/love.pyotu (facebook page for relief work)
https://www.youtube.com/user/SMCHNewsMagazine (youtube channel forrelief work)

For info via email contact: loveallrefugees@gmail.com
For general information via phone contact: Katelijne +44 7944 051030 (languages spoken: English/French/Dutch/Thai) or Zaina +30 6945080798 (until March 18th)

Phone contacts of relief teams:

Athens: Euna  +30 6945981282 (languages spoken: Korean/English/Chinese)
Idomeni: Lefki +30 6949773622 (languages spoken: English/Greek)
Chios Island: Sophia +30 6945765269 (languages spoken: Korean/English/French)


WGLove  x Katelijne


Be Vegan, Make Peace 



Brighton Vegfest 27 & 28th February 2016

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Vegfest Brighton 2016.

First thing 5am Saturday morning I packed the already fuelled van with all I needed for the weekend and hit the road for Brighton Vegfest. It’s a good 6hr drive from Cornwall and I didn’t want to miss anything of the festival especially as I was volunteering with the VON stall. After a fairly smooth drive, finding a parking spot and making my way to the venue and locating the VON stall it was already about midday. Cherry and Isaac were full steam ahead with ice cream sales which was a very big hit at the festival and sold out on the Sunday. Robert, Salim, Dan and Richard were informing people about what VON is all about and getting people to fill in the food labelling petition online.

Dan Graham also gave a great half hour talk, sharing his story and what VON is all about, in an informative way including some witty humour to a fairly full room of intrigued people. Another highlight was meeting Will Tuttle, author of the World peace diet and attending his talk: Vegan living, Creating a new culture of peace, which was really good. After a busy day at the festival a few of us went for the famous Brighton veggie buffet and saw some familiar faces from Vegfest who had the same idea for dinner before heading back to our Air bnb for the night. Sunday was more of the same thing and Cherry and I churned out the ice cream to a long line of people which never seemed to shrink until we ran out of ice cream, which was good and lots of people were also saying that they had never tried vegan ice cream.

It was a great festival with an awesome atmosphere also great to catch up with the network crew and share the message to the public, bringing awareness as to what VON is all EmailT2about and also raising some very necessary funds for the VON organisation.

Looking forward to Bristol Vegfest!

Roots rev,

Jon Dale.EmailT


Events Round Up September –December 2015

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VON has had a busy time traveling the length and breadth of the country from as far south as Cornwall Vegan Fair to the first Glasgow Vegfest which attracted 7000 people over two days.

Vegan events are growing exponentially, people are interested for health, compassion and the survival of humans on the planet.

Give it a go, have your own vegan fair, all you need is a village hall or community centre (we can help with flyers), and you might be surprised as to how successful it is.

Below are the events that the VON team attended with our stall, each event is a story in itself. The volunteers have given time and a lot of effort to make the VON voice heard.


Sept 5th – Viva! Incredible Vegan Roadshow Portsmouth, John Curtis plus volunteers.



Oct 10th 11th – VegfestUK London, Robert, Salim plus volunteers.

Oct 17th – Northern Vegan Festival, Robert, Lloyd, Nick, Dan, Zaina, Simon, Izaak and Cherry

Oct 24th 25th – West Midlands Vegan Festival, Robert, Cherry, Dan, Jill, Izaak and Simon

Oct 31st – Cheltenham Vegan Fair, John Curtis plus volunteers.



Nov 7th – Dorchester Vegan Fair, John Cutis

Nov 15th – North East Vegan Festival (NEVFest), Cherry, Robert and Jenny

Nov 22nd – Winterfest, Leeds: Cherry and Paul King



Dec 5th – Cornwall Vegan Festival, John Dale plus volunteers.

Dec 5th 6th – Vegfest Scotland, Robert, Cherry, Keith from Arran, Chris and others

Dec 12th – Swansea Vegfest Christmas Market, Tony Martin plus volunteers.

Snowdon Vegan Party 2015

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The Vegan Organic Network annual fund raiser, raised over £6,000.00 thanks to all the walkers and their sponsors.

Snowdon weekend

By Jill Sandra Phillips

Brimming with excitement we all headed to Snowdon once more for the annual Vegan Cake Eating Mountain Party, which fell on July 31st- Aug 2nd 2015. Full of the memories of 2014…engaging conversations, vegan food and drink, late night dancing with pirates and general merriment without waking dorm-mates on our way back to bed, sunshine…. Well, if we exclude the last word, all to plan!!

Friday saw most people heading across, up and down country to the Pen-Y-Pass Youth hostel or to their camping and wild camping spots, some stopping in Bangor or Chester for vegan fayre before arriving …just in case there wasn’t any when we got there…er…no…because we take every opportunity to eat, us vegans, didn’t you know! Must be the lack of nutrients in all our lovely food…

Anyway, arrivals commenced, seeing old friends and new, handing over donations, getting goodies (vegan bite size snacks, don’t mind if we do!) and checking in, wondering who snores and who doesn’t etcetc and generally relaxing and getting info for the next day.

Saturday was met with clouds and rain. I tried to shoo them away with yoga and energy movement but my powers are still growing and I’m not quite there yet, even though we did all combine our magic. Katie led us in a wonderful opening circle, respecting the mountain and asking for its safety for us, bringing in the directions and generally making us all smiley and loved. There was joy in the air, mixing with the rain.

The walk was tough. Let’s not kid anybody. Slippery rocks, mud, wet feet ten minutes in – come on, admit it, I wasn’t the only one with cheap rubbish boots! Mind you, I did see someone climbing in pumps, if my knees weren’t so shot I would have carried her. However my knees were indeed troubling and a piggy back had someone offered would have been wonderful…wonder why no-one offered…maybe shouldn’t have eaten all those vegan snacks and stopped off in Bangor..…

Yet we made it. It was hard work and some turned back out of necessity. I asked at the top if I could get the train down. No. Train full. ‘Mountain rescue Miss if you need assistance’ No. That wasn’t happening. It’s only downhill after all. Plus at the end there may be beer. Vegan beer. So onwards!

We ate cake at the top. I don’t know if we counted numbers to beat the world record. It was an effort not to be blown off the top of the mountain to our death so the cake eating, smiling, photograph moment happened most swiftly before people took shelter and  then quickly began a decent. There were warm showers at the hostel and did I mention beer? I think I mentioned beer.

A Katie special energy massage followed after the shower. This women. Sent by the universe to just cheer people up and stop you complaining.People strumming guitars and chatting all around.One big family. Gareth played some songs, about girls and some more songs about girls, our own vegan Bob Dylan, then Mobius Loop treated us to their wonderful blend of Gypsy Rap Folk and I got up and danced a lot, forgetting that my legs didn’t work. By that time there was more beer.

Cheese tasting and energy bliss bites also happened as did a stretch out that Saturday evening. All was jolly and well with the world. Didn’t matter that it had rained and was a struggle – for you know what is a struggle? Being a human or animal oppressed and without a voice on this planet. Being denied freedom and allocated suffering. For this we are vegan. For this we stand together. For this we climb mountains and dance together as one.

As always, a privilege.


A dozen or so pictures below:

Welcome reception-VON team hard at work booking every one in.

Snowdon Reception1

YHA Walk start





















Walk is under way!
Snowdon Walk1
























The VON train party with cakes for the summit-thanks to Jane for baking most of the cakes 😉Cake express 1















The kids enjoying the weather.





D walk





























Some great outdoor gear!


















Where did that water fall come from?












Walkers at the summit cafe-it was so cosy half of our party forgot to go out for the most people eating cake on a mountain world record attempt.Summit Cafe












Cake on the summit delivered by Jane (only 80) and her team. Summit Photo

Full Moon RisingFull Moon

















Wild Campers-looking wild!Wild camp












Time to Party 😉P1290842













Anyone for scheese and wine?Scheese 1

Band (2)












Evening Party2











































It’s getting late…….OU OU OU OU OUOOOOOFull Moon












Sun is rising












YHA (2)2


Hope every one made it through the night.













See you next year 🙂



International Permaculture Convergence September 2015

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International Permaculture convergence September 2015 report from Tony Martin

International Convergence Tony Martin 1











Very pleased with the Permaculture event, lots of movers and shakers were there.

So many people were from other countries and who had trouble our language, i gave them some of our literature and DVD’s and they were very interested in the atrticles in Growing Green International.

Amanda came and helped for a couple of days, very knowledgeable and customer friendly. This enabled me to get away for the one and only lecture I managed to get to see (Aranyas)

I met about 5 current members and perhaps 30 vegans (that I know of) many of whom had not heard of us.

On another table I sold some plants and cakes (vegan of course) for which there will be a £37.50 donation to VON
This worked well as some people were interested in the plants, some the cakes and some the literature (about equal thirds I would say) and once you had them stopped at the table it was much easier to talk to them.

A couple of people complimented us on the nice advertising stand.

I sold a number of the books (I have to sit and count stock and work out how much VON took (Probably £100 or so.)

At no time were there any in depth questions asked which surprised me.

Generally the mornings were quiet and it didn’t pick up till about 11 am and I usually tried to “Person” the stall till about 7pm when it died down again as it got darker.

Generally people seemed interested including an African chap from Gambia whom I gave a mag and DVDs to. He was representing his area at the convergence and was very friendly and polite. He can be seen here accepting a suitcase Heather (my partner) and I had rescued from a rubbish pile. It just needed a bit of fixing to one wheel mounting otherwise it was almost like new.

I had one chap who refused a copy initially because he had written a book on how it was good for the planet to farm animals but even he opened his mind when I asked him to consider if he should not ignore information from any source such as the excellent article by Jenny on Nitrogen in GGI35. Sadly some other people came and interrupted otherwise I might have made some progress with him.

We were moved in to the main marque on the Monday(?) as there was some bad weather forecast. This I think, got us some more visitors than if we had stayed in the” Market” area in the fringe for the duration.

The food provided was excellent and all the meals had vegan options.

I would say that it was a very successful event both for the participants and VON and that at future Convergences it would be great for us to have a couple of workshops there as well as a stall.

Re Swansea Vegfest , yes I would be happy to run a VON stall again, I will need more mags, leaflets and it would be appreciated if VON could cover any costs.

I think some VON t-shirts would be very useful to sell and for wear on the stall.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
All the best

Internation Perma

Manchester Vegan Fair May 16 2015

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Over 3,000 people at the Manchester Vegan FairCGX_20150516_0177 (2)CGX_20150516_0283 (2)CGX_20150516_0447 (2) CGX_20150516_0590 (2) CGX_20150516_0297 (2) VON stall
The Vegan Organic Networks very own event the Manchester Vegan Fair in Chorlton had its second showing on May 16th 2015. The event has grown from a garden party to a small festival. The support we got from the local community was inspiring: the Chorlton Arts Festival included us in their brochure, local performers all played for free, people helped distribute flyers all around Greater Manchester and over thirty volunteers helped on the day.
There was entertainment throughout the day including; a Giant Pirate with a Policeman on stilts giving chase, Spokes-bicycle dancers, solar rickshaw rides for the children, Irish dancers, face painting, henna, juggling and a wide selection of bands and poets playing on the solar powered stage.
The talks room was packed out with people wanting to listen to David Graham (VON founder), the talk is available to watch on YouTube; Manchester Vegan Fair David Graham.
The sun came out and the ice cream sold out, as did many of the cake stands. Luckily Global Fusion who arrived three hours late had a van full of cakes (the day was saved). We had a wide selection of plants from a number of local growers and the VON stand did a roaring trade. There was a fantastic array of healthy, vegan foods on offer; including Pedal Powered Fruit Smoothies, Raw Treats and a wide selection of mouth watering delights from various stalls to choose from. They were joined by sponsors Koko Dairy Free, Veganicity, Moo Free Chocolate, Pulsin, Bute Island Scheese, Vegusto, Vegan Tuck Box, and Nakd– all of whom had supplied some tasty goodies.
Additional sponsors included some of the UK’s largest vegan brands and events; The Vegan Society, Viva!, Vegfest, The Great Yorkshire Vegan Festival, Yours Naturally-Naturally-Yours, Ethical Wares, and Derma Enhance and local cafes Tea Time Collective and On the Eighth Day.
Manchester Vegan Fair 2016; have we out grown our current venue, should we make it a two day event-come along next year and find out!

Exeter Vegan Fair and Bake Sale

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Exter Bake 2015












Once again VON attended the popular Exeter Vegan Fair and Bake Sale in April. The stall was filled with VON information. To encourage people to the stall there were plants from QuercusNursery www.ebay.co.uk/everforestgarden and from our own local Vonnies, Jamie and Bek as well as homemade vegan biscuits provided by Jessica. Jamie, Bek, Ellen and Jessica spent the day answering questions and explaining the Von principles of growing food stockfree to an interested crowd of people.




LABL Fair Liverpool – Live A Better Life!

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Dan L'pool email

Vegan Organic Network at LABL Fair Liverpool – Live A Better Life!
Saturday 11 April 2015, The Black E, Liverpool, 10 am – 4 pm
Thanks to the VON volunteers Cherry, Jenny, John, Simon and Dan
The massive event in Liverpool! Helping you to Live A Better Life with 100 stalls offering everything from delicious vegan food and drink to natural beauty and handmade gifts!
Cookery demonstrations, film screenings, talks and a prize draw will add to the event.
This unique event will broaden your horizons and provide you with many opportunities to taste, try and buy fantastic goods from the best natural, cruelty free and ecological companies around.
Delicious hot and cold food will be served throughout the day, all 100% vegan (meat, dairy and egg free).Von stall L'poo email

VON at Vegfest Brighton 2015

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The Vegan Organic Network Roots Revolution came to Brighton Vegfest 2015; delivering their message:

‘Vegan Organic Agriculture is the answer to the one single industry destroying the planet more than any other- Animal Agriculture.’


A big thanks to all the volunteers; Amanda Baker who represented VON at Brighton sustainability conference, Simon and Robert who drove down from Manchester with the stall merchandise and banners, Salim and Ranjan from London, John from Southampton and the local Brighton volunteers that came to help; Jenny, Katie, Chris, Richard, Will and Penny

Brighton Centre veggie festival bonanza-by Henry Holloway, Reporter

Meat-free musclemen, no-dairy dating, natural nibbles and animal-friendly foodies packed the Brighton Centre for a veggie bonanza.
Brighton and Hove was hailed as the “centre of vegetarian and veganism in the UK” as hundreds of vegan stalls and thousands of punters packed the venue over the weekend for Vegfest.
Performances and talks were held throughout the weekend featuring activists, vegan comedians, chefs, athletes and campaigners.
Brighton-raised Ellie Bedford, author of vegan children’s cookbook How to Eat a Rainbow, held cooking demonstrations showing how to make vegan brownies.
She said: “There has been a huge increase in the number of people going vegan and a lot of celebrities as well, which has really raised the profile.
“When I’m cooking I just throw things together.”
“I don’t follow strict recipes.
“My children are big influences; there were no healthy kids’ cookery books so it inspired me to write my own and make it so they can have fun.
“The festival is really brilliant, it is my first time coming to Vegfest in Brighton and I am chuffed to be back in the city.”
A team of vegan bodybuilders were also on hand throughout the weekend to show you can be a competitive athlete while being a vegan.
Jasmijn De Boo, CEO of the Vegan Society, hailed Brighton and Hove as the “centre of vegetarian and veganism in the UK”.
She said: “It has been a fantastic weekend.
“I do not think it has ever been bigger than this and it is growing every year with more high calibre speakers and even more events,” she added.
“We had a 25 per cent growth in membership over the past three years and last year alone we had 11per cent – it is definitely showing there is a lot more interest.
“More and more people are taking the vegan pledge, in which you go vegan for a month, and it is really encouraging.
“We are trying to reach out to non-vegans to show it is easy, fun, and healthy.”
This year was Vegfest’s first at the Brighton Centre, having moved from its previous home at Hove Town Hall.
Tim Barford, Vegfest’s founder, who has been a vegan since 1984, said: “If you truly care about animals, you go vegan.
“If you truly care about the environment, you go vegan.
“If you truly care about people going hungry, you go vegan.
“And if you truly care about your own health, you go vegan.”
Vegan speed dating
VEGANS looking for love tried their hand at speed dating.
Among stalls touting everything from vegan socks to meat-free hot dogs, one hall opened up for veg festival-goers hoping to find more in common than a mutual love of lentils.
Vegetarians and vegans were given the opportunity to sign up for the unique speed-dating session in the hope of finding a special someone with the same ethical values.
Karin Ridgers, 44, founder of Veggie Vision TV, has been running veggie speed dating at the festival for four years.
She said: “This isn’t just ‘we don’t eat meat’; this is our lifestyle and our passion. It means the world to us.
“This is the fourth year for the dating. The atmosphere and the people are great.
“Everyone’s up for having a giggle and a laugh and not taking it too seriously.
“This year people have been saying they are coming to Veg Fest because of the speed dating.”
The turn-out for the event was so good there was a waiting list of those eager to find a date among the dairy-free.
Mrs Ridgers said: “The main aim is for everyone to have a good time and to be inspired by Vegfest.”

Brighton V 2015Brighton Vegfest 2015 Si

Cowspiracy 23rd Feb 2015

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The Vegan Organic Network and Manchester VegSoc in association with the One World Film Club put on a very successful film showing of Cowspiracy today-about fifty people attended (about half the audience were meat eaters).
Plenty of food and drink including delicious hand made energy balls were provided by VegSoc. The Vegan Organic Network showed the Snowdon Vegan Party 2014 short film and after Cowspiracy David Graham (one of VON’s founding members) gave a short talk and led the question and answer session.
The film inspired us all, many signed up to Volunteer at the Manchester Vegan Fair in May, all the flyers went to be distributed around Manchester to advertise our next film showings, the Manchester Vegan Fair and the Snowdon Vegan Party.
The One World Film Clubs next film showing is at the Kitchen in Bolton for more information visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/1596507230567325/?fref=ts

MMU 23 Feb Cowspiracy 001 email MMU 23 Feb Cowspiracy 005 email MMU 23 Feb Cowspiracy 006 email MMU 23 Feb Cowspiracy email

Birmingham Wildlfe Festival 21st Feb 2015

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The Vegan Organic Network crew traveled to the Birmingham Wildlfe Festival today.
We had a great day on our stall and on the march; networking and giving our information out to lots of people. There must have been over 5000 people on the demo.

The one day festival of wildlife campaigning organisations & rescues coming together to promote their causes. The event included –

60 Stalls and 4 vegan Food Vendors – open 10.00am
Stage starts – 10.45am
Speeches 11.15pm
Badger March Against The Cull commences at 1.30pm
Music 5 bands/performers through the day from 10.45am
Street performers
Digital screen showing films all day
Fieldcraft workshops 12noon (and 2.30pm if enough interest)

Sponsored by Badger Trust, League Against Cruel Sports, International Fund for Animal Welfare and other groups.

Vegan Athletes for Peace

Vegan former professional footballer, Neil Robinson, and another vegan former professional footballer, Dean Howell, are undertaking a charity cycle challenge, starting on May 22 2015, cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats and to be completed in 9 days.
They are undertaking the cycle challenge to raise awareness of the benefits of a vegan lifestyle for the health of humans, animals, and the planet. At the same time they’re raising funds for a variety of charities who are doing great work to bring about the healing of the planet and all who live on it.
They’re aiming to raise £2,000 for each of their supported charities (one of which is VON) and appreciate all sponsorship and support – see their website for more information http://veganathletesforpeace.com

London Vegfest 27/28th September 2014

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Robert London Vegfest emailRobert, Simon, Lucy, Ranjan, John, Salim, Dan and Paul all helped on the VON stall.

10,000 visitors came to VegfestUK London at Olympia West on September 27th 28th.

Highlights included 200 stalls, 100 speakers and performers, plus entertainment from comedy, music, kids area, speed dating, stars quizzes and more!

Fancy helping out at an event?

Contact Dan: 0161 232 7807 or events@veganorganic.net

email Vegfest London 14 002email Vegfest London 14 003

Events September-December 2014

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Blackpool Vegan Fair 13 Sep 003 email

Grow Your Own Nottingham 6th September 2014

Simon took the VON stall to Nottingham’s ‘Grow Your Own Event’, he helped to inform, educate and inspire people to grow their own using Stockfree Organic Methods.

About 600 people attended the event including Veggies catering. After the event Simon went to the Sumac centre, a Vegan social centre in Nottingham, where he shared a meal and left some Vegan Organic Materials including dvds , magazines and leaflets for people to use.

Northern Vegan Festival Winter Gardens Blackpool 13th September 2014

Blackpool Vegan Fair 13 Sep 006email

Blackpool’s Winter Gardens first opened to the public on 11 July 1878 and was described as ‘”The Most Magnificent Palace of Amusement In The World” , a fitting venue for a vegan fair.Simon, Paul, Cherry, Robert and myself enjoyed a good day out, giving out free Stockfree herbal tea grown on the Isle of Arran and talking to many of the visitors (about 1000) about the vegan organic network.
25th October West Midlands Vegan Fair What an event. 3000 visitors. An increase of 1000 on 2013. Amazing. It must have been one of the biggest 1 day festivals of the year. Who knows what next year will be like! Maybe more folks.
Sat 22 November: Animal Aid South West Christmas Without Cruelty Festival .
Thanks to our helpers for keeping VON’s show on the road: Simon , Robert, Jamie, Beks, Jessica, Doug, Ric, Cherry , Paul, Abby , Lucy, Ranjan, John, Salim, Dan, Paul, Sue, Izaak, Jill and many more volunteers who have helped on the stall and with cooking, workshops and entertainment.
VON will be at the following events
Sat 29 November: Manchester and Salford Anarchist Book Fair
Sat 6 December: Compassionate Derby
Sun Decenber 7th: Animal Aid Christmas Without Cruelty, Kensington Town Hall, London

23rd December: VON’s Festive Free Fun Shindig




Do you want to be a Farmer? Intro Evening & Autumn Commercial Horticulture Course

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The Kindling Trust are serious about getting more people into growing organic food commercially, and we are looking to support people who are serious about doing it too!

They are offering a package that is completely unique in the UK – with a route into farming via a four day course that covers all the key areas for setting up and running an organic food growing enterprise, from finances and record-keeping to soil fertility and field-scale veg production. Read more about the course and how to apply here. Participants in the course can then choose to apply for a place on the FarmStart site, where they’ll receive land, support and training to get their growing business established.

They’re starting it all off with a ‘Do you want to be a Farmer?’ evening on Monday 15th September, from 6.30-8.00 pm at the Kindling offices in Hulme. Read more about the evening here.

Another great trip up Snowdon!

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Summit Photo web 1

Snowdon Vegan Party 2014-aVegan Organic Network fund raiser.

Short film of the event.

Izaak, Danny, Cherry and Zaina and myself travelled to Snowdon, stopping off at Llanfairfechan , where we splashed around in the sea and had some chips. It is an easy journey from Manchester only about two hours without a stop.

We arrived at Pen-Y-Pass YHA on the evening of Thursday 25th July, where Salim had already arrived from London by train, he had the foresight to buy his ticket 3 months in advanced and managed to get a ridiculously good deal.

When we stepped out of our van we were greeted by hills on all sides and the sun going down in the valley.

On the Friday we unloaded the van – juicers, blenders (for energy ball demo), circus equipment, magazines, flyers, tee shirts, lap top tops all in preparation of the arrival of our guests.

At about 5pm a steady stream of people booked in and gave us sponsorship money which they had raised, many people had raised over £50.00 and some over £100.00. Most people arrived in time for the evening meal and the YHA put meals to one side for late arrivals.

After dinner there was a presentation from the walk marshalls, who explained how we had organized the walk and how to remain safe and the importance of good equipment and fitness.

Katie and Rachel set up their massage tables and a number of lucky people got a good rub down.

Cherry’s energy ball making demo was a great hit in the YHA kitchen with lots of people joining in.

The band and DJ kicked in and people loosened up with a few dance moves and a drink from the bar.

Tony Tofu had bought along some very popular T-shirts to sell and we were lucky to have Vegan Tuck box doing a stall and selling lots of yummy treats.

Saturday breakfast was from 7.30am-9.30am with a good choice of drinks, fruit, cereals, toast, beans, sausages and hash browns.

Katie’s energy workshop session tuned people into the surroundings in preparation for the walk. The 200 Koko drinks were passed round and at 10.30 the first group of walkers set off and by 11.00am the all of walkers were making their way up the Pyg track.

The people that remained transported all the delicious cake (generously donated by My Cupcakes – many thanks Helen), they drove into Llanberis to catch the train and take the cake to the summit.

The train was due to arrive at the summit at 2.00pm and departed at 2.30pm, would the walkers get there in time?

After an hour or so into the walk, there was some distance between front and back, walk marshalls were at both ends of the walk to make sure we didn’t lose anyone. At a previously arranged point the front walkers (who were mainly under 11 years of age, our youngest walkers were Simreth  and Zak both aged 8) stopped and waited for everyone to catch up for a group photo.

The top didn’t look so far away but seemed to get further away as we zig zagged up the steep rocks. As we were on the final few hundred yards, we could see the train coming up the hill and we waved to our friends as the train passed us.

Now we had half an hour to get the cake from the train to the summit , cut it and distribute it to over two hundred people.

Everyone got their bit of cake and found a place on the summit, banners were positioned, every one roared  ‘Roots Revolution!’ raised their cake and simultaneously ate it and a new world record of 214 people eating cake on a mountain was created.

With just a few minutes to spare our friends who came on the train, jumped back on the train for their return trip.

On the summit we had amazing panoramic views and clear blue skies on the highest mountain in Wales – it was magnificent!

As we made our way down the Miners’ Track (the decent was more difficult than the ascent), a vista of lakes opened up before us. By the time I got down to the lake half of our party were splashing around and swimming, the others had taken off their boots and were chilling in the sun, it was like we had just arrived at a great beach in the mountains.

The rest of the walk was down an easy path, which lead us back to the YHA, hot showers, hot meal,  drinks at the bar.

After the evening meal the evening’s entertainment opened with delicious food tasting thanks to donations from Bute Island and Koko; there was a great selection of Sheese and crackers and the Koko drinks and not forgetting Jane’s hot sausage rolls.

We had performances from Marcus Whitehead on guitar, Ben the clown and the head line act Mobius Loop got everyone up and dancing, the DJ-Carl played his tunes and everyone made merry until the early hours.

Luckily, the entertainment took place in a separate building and didn’t disturb those wanting an early night.

On Sunday after a hearty breakfast every one said their goodbyes; we enjoyed a relaxing day and another night at the hostel.

Thanks to everyone who took part in the event, wild campers, day trippers and those who stayed at the local guest houses and the YHA, the sponsored walk and event raised £2000.00 and took us one step closer to a Green, Clean, Cruelty Free world.

For information Snowdon Vegan Party 2015: 31st July – 2nd August visit wwwsnowdonveganparty.co.uk – hope to see you there.

Loads of photos in the Facebook group .

If you would like to make a donation for the sponsored walk, please go to mydonate or send cheques to:-

The Vegan Organic Network
58 High Lane
Chorlton Cum Hardy
M21 9DZ

Roots Revolution!

Dan Graham





Latest Growing Green magazine now available

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Growing Green International Issue 33 - coverThe Summer issue of VON’s magazine GROWING GREEN INTERNATIONAL is now out (issue 33!) – available for free to members in both paper and electronic format. If you have yet joined VON click here and get your copy sent out now.

Issue 33 includes articles on the distinction between veganic & vegan, Woodleaf Farm (vegan organic farm in California, shown in cover photo), plus Sadhana Forest, running a seed swap, overwintering onions, how to prune an apple tree, Tolhurst Organic, Brightside Blueberries, Oakcroft Organic Gardens … and more.

Mulberry Fayre at Tolhurst Organic – this weekend! (Aug 3rd)

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Mulberry Fayre at Hardwick 3 August 2014, 12 noon – 5pm

This week Government’s “Great Food Plan” is about judging food on basis of locality seasonality and quality – as well as price. Tolhurst Organic is a Community Interest Company offering local seasonal and quality food to local communities for over a quarter of a century now. To celebrate their new Community status and share the best of local food and drink in the area, the C.I.C. is organising the first Mulberry Fayre – an open day for local communities and beyond.

Says Iain Tolhurst, renowned organic grower “The first Mulberry Fayre at Hardwick will be a community effort with social aims in the local area. The event will celebrate the splendour of the summer season, with sales of the best local foods, games, competitions and food trails for children. Mulberry Cordial and home-made Mulberry cheesecake are just two of the attractions.”

Visitors will be offered an improvised farmers’ market, food and drinks, as well as a guided tour of historic Market Garden at Hardwick, only open at special occasions. Local businesses will benefit, too, by selling their best ware and community groups will contribute through their volunteers and information stands. We aim at “zero-waste” targets, by recycling and reusing all unused items.

“This event will set us up, as a company dedicated to supplying the best food to local vendors, including schools, and we hope many parents will attend to see the environment in which the food is grown and which makes it taste so good. – says Tamara Schiopu, Business Development Officer  – Everybody is welcome to our open day, to see where their food comes from.”

For information about access and details, please visit www.tolhurstorganic.co.uk


Help sought in Cheshire at Oakcroft

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Do you have a few hours to spare each week? Oakcroft is looking for some local volunteers to help
out in the market garden. This could involved physical work in the garden, with the market stalls, and administrative support from someone who might be willing to set up and run a volunteer
programme here at Oakcroft. If you’re interested then do get in touch with Lisa Payne via the Oakcroft website: www.oakcroft.org.uk

VON AGM – September 14th

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VON members are invited to join us at our 2014 AGM, which will be held on Sunday 14th September at 1pm at Anandavan, 58 High Lane, Chorlton cum Hardy, Manchester M21 9DZ, UK.
The AGM gives members the opportunity to ask questions and to get involved with organisational matters. Please contact us at info@veganorganic.net to indicate your intention to attend, give apologies or to find out more.

Tolhurst Organic become a Community Interest Company

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Tolhurst Organic have become Tolhurst Organic Partnership C.I.C. After 39 years of organic farming and leadership in stock-free organics, they are, officially, a company whose utmost interests are in the benefits and health of our customers, of our local community. Now a Community Interest Company, limited by guarantee, they set out to deliver the best organic food (grown vegan organically), to the expectations of our customers. More information on their website – and if you haven’t already subscribed to their newsletter, the Onion Oracle, there’s a link on their homepage.

Manchester Vegan Fair 17th May 2014

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Manchester Vegan Fair01As the sun shone down the good vibes streamed out and about 1600 people joined in the fun at the Chorlton Irish Club, raising £1650.00 for VON’s broad range of activities and helping increase awareness of vegan organic growing.

At 11am doors opened to over a hundred people who had been queuing to be first in line for a free goody bag which contained treats from: Koko, Pulsin, Nakd, Vegusto, Gillies and the Vegan Tuck Box.

Visitors were treated to outside activities including rickshaw rides, circus skills, yoga, massage, whistle making and a series of short films in the film tent. Local musicians and poets performed on Des’s solar powered stage, the Spokes bicycle troupe had people rolling with laughter with their new Vegan pedal powered show.

Manchester Vegan Fair04About forty stalls were outside including food and refreshments from local companies: The VON cafe- Juices and Energy Balls , V Revolution, Krunchy Salad, Tea Time Collective, The Kitchen, Veggies , James Catering Van ,Pedal Powered Smoothies, St Best Caribbean Food Van travelled all the way from London and as the sun streamed down the vegan ice cream stand did a roaring trade. Many stalls generously donated some great prizes to the raffle.

The free food tasting table included: Ice Cream and Cheesecakes from Food Heaven, Moo Free Chocolate, Bute Island Scheese, Vegusto, Good Hemp and Pulsin provided Protein Powder for the smoothes.

Special offer from our sponsors Veganicity save 35% quote MANVF2014 and 10% off UK Juicers quote Vegan Organic Network.

Inside we had a talk’s room and about another forty stalls, which included animal rights campaign groups and a chocolate fountain from Ananda Foods. The event was featured in the local press and a local film crew filmed the day – click to watch the video:


A big thank you to all the volunteers, who helped in the build up to the event and  supported us on the day.

Roll on Manchester Vegan Fair 2015!


London’s first entirely vegan bakery stars in new British Library film

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London’s first entirely vegan bakery, Ms Cupcake, stars in a new online film from the British Library which aims to help grow vegan businesses. In the  film Mellissa Morgan, found of Ms Cupcake, explains how she turned to The British Library’s Innovation for Growth Programme to help start Brixton based Ms Cupcake.

Mellissa explains: “The British Library loves start-up businesses and they want to help you grow that business. Their Innovation for Growth Programme is a combination of one-on-one meetings with experts in their field, seminars and speed mentoring.”

Acknowledging why some start-ups may not think of The British Library when starting a business, Mellissa says: “When you first think of The British Library you think of this huge inaccessible building for really, really intelligent people, but actually it’s a hub of creativity a place where people go to meet to talk to each other and share ideas and be inspired by different things.”

And commenting on how The British Library is helping Ms Cupcake now, Mellissa says: “As we’re beginning to expand nationally and internationally, The British Library is where I’m turning to. They’re able to help me with that growth path, to go on and on; the sky’s the limit.”


Liverpool Vegan Fair report

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Liverpool’s LABL (Live a Better Life) Vegan Fair was held on Sat 12th April.

It was all hands on deck for the VON crew – Cherry, Kerry and Jenny worked hard at our ever popular juice stand, Jane and I helped on the VON info stall, and David gave a talk to about 30 people who wanted to learn about VON and the work we do.

The event had lots of stalls, many of which were also at VON’s Manchester Vegan Fair on May 17th. There was also a talks room, and another room for caterers who were serving hot food.

It was the first outing for our new food labelling petition – people were eager to sign it and to find out more about how their food is grown. This is the wording:

Currently most organic food is grown with fish, blood and bone. Given the choice most people want their food grown with plant based fertilisers and free from chemicals. We, the undersigned, are concerned citizens who urge our leaders to act now to introduce labelling on food, which will inform people as to the type of fertilisers being used to grown individual crops.

Manchester Vegan Fair a great success!

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Manchester Vegan Fair01More than 1600 people soaked up the sunshine at Manchester Vegan Fair. Visitors were able to sample vegan produce from around 70 stalls at the Chorlton Irish Club icluding Hulme Comunity Garden Centre, Sea Shepherd, Hunts Sab and Mycupcakes.
Other attractions included a film tent, talks, massage, yoga, rickshaw rides, circus skills, bands, muscians and entertainers.

VON chairman David Graham said: ”The day went really well. We had about 70 stalls and about 1,600 came along . We were very fortunate with the weather. It was amazingly well supported.”

Chorlton 14

Brighton VegFest March 2014

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Brighton was a great success, with a mini gathering of some of the VON farmers: Herbalists Maureen and Keith from Arran and John and Denise from Rufford farm who produce vegan organic grain helped on the VON stall. Maureen and Kieth, supplied us with nearly twenty varieties of herbs, people enjoyed a cup of their herb tea when they visited our stand.

Brighton VegFest 2014

We had other help at the stall from local people; a big thank you to Justine, John, Kulbir, Simrit, Harkiran and of course Izaak who travelled down from Manchester with me.

Our new pop up banners were unveiled at the event, to which we got many positive comments.



Vegan Organic Network Statement on Climate Change

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A growing solution: How Stockfree-Organic farming systems can help combat climate change

Climate change is almost universally accepted as being caused by the release, through human activities, of greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere. Only professional deniers, funded by the fossil fuel lobby, and blinkered politicians, still doubt the science and mounting evidence of the human contribution to climate change. The earth’s current period of development has been coined the ‘anthropocene’ – a time when virtually all planetary ecosystems are being affected by, and in many cases seriously degraded by human activity.

Change without borders

Human-driven global warming threatens to destabilise climate systems across the entire planet. Climate change does not respect international borders. GHG emissions in the UK are already contributing to hardship, famine and death in undeveloped nations – those least equipped to deal with rapid environmental change. The United Nations Environment Programme warns of a growing threat of wars and conflict, as natural resources dwindle. Island communities face damaging sea level rises, glaciers are retreating at unprecedented rates, and sea ice at the poles is melting rapidly.

Ecosystems which have had aeons to adapt to natural and gradual climatic change now face upheaval within a century, or perhaps only decades. Species which share the planet with us are being forced to evolve rapidly in less time than the average human life span. For some this will be impossible.

To avoid runaway catastrophic climate change industrialised nations must start making drastic cuts in their GHG emissions within the next decade. So far there is little evidence of emissions falling; in most cases they are rising, fuelled by increasing industrialisation, and by growth in transport.

Belching our way to climate chaos

Yet one human-driven activity is responsible for more global emissions of GHG than the world’s entire transport sector – livestock farming. Worldwide, livestock produce 18 per cent of the gases that cause global warming. One of these, methane, which is released when livestock such as cattle breathe out and ‘burp’, has 23 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide (CO2).

Air-polluting ammonia, a key catalyst in the formation of acid rain, and nitrous oxide, a powerful GHG with 296 times the global warming potential of CO2, are also generated through livestock production. Added to the fossil fuel used in growing and transporting feedstuffs, then moving the resultant products around the globe, the damage caused to ecosystems by livestock farming through deforestation and pollution poses a serious threat to life on earth.

The earth cannot produce enough animal products to feed its growing population at the level of the average Western diet, yet demand for animal products is rising. We need to rethink the way in which we produce food, recognise its ecological implications, and adopt a more earth-friendly approach.

Climate-friendly, carbon neutral, and kinder

Stockfree-Organic systems (SO)
, on a field, smallholding, or domestic scale use no animal inputs, synthetic chemical pesticides, genetically modified organisms, and minimal fossil fuels. Stockfree-Organic farming seeks to minimise reliance on ‘imported’ fertility through in situ composting of all plant wastes, by using living green manures as soil fertility builders, and by practising minimal soil disturbance or ‘reduced tillage’ cultivation.

Food grown using SO systems is eaten locally and in season, so minimising ‘food miles’, and is delivered with as little (reusable) packaging as possible. Food labelled with the Stockfree-Organic Standards Symbol (which is inspected by the Soil Association) carries the ethical assurance that it has been grown to strict organic standards without any animal inputs.

Stockfree-Organic farming is the ‘greenest’, most ecologically sustainable and ‘carbon neutral’ way of producing healthy food.

How can Stockfree-Organic systems help slow down climate change?

  • They don’t rely on synthetic fertilisers and weedkillers, pesticides and fungicides, all of which consume fossil fuels in manufacture, packaging and transport, releasing large quantities of CO2 and other airborne pollutants.
  • No animal or fish by-products, or animal manures, are used to maintain soil fertility, which dissociates SO from all forms of livestock production, organic or otherwise. This reduces dependency on fossil fuels for importing, spreading and incorporating manures, and removes demand for livestock by-products e.g. as fertilisers. This adds ‘ethical value’ to food grown in a SO system, guaranteeing it as from a cruelty-free growing method.
  • Reduced tillage systems used in conjunction with SO help to maintain potentially the greatest ‘carbon reservoir’ on earth – the soil. Exposing the soil to air, usually when it is ploughed, results in organic matter being lost to the atmosphere as CO2. Undisturbed soil, sown with a green manure, and with a thriving microbial ecosystem, ‘locks up’ CO2 from the air, helping reduce atmospheric levels. Minimal cultivation reduces fossil fuel use.
  • Where organic matter is brought in to boost soil fertility it is sourced locally e.g. from a green waste scheme, to minimise transport emissions. This also utilises a valuable local resource which may otherwise be dumped in landfill, where it generates the powerful GHG methane.
  • Fossil fuel usage and subsequent release of the most abundant greenhouse gas CO2 is minimised or eliminated. Renewable energy sources – human, wind, solar and water power – are used wherever possible.
  • Biodiversity is encouraged, helping maintain more stable local ecosystems, which are more resilient to seasonal and other fluctuations caused by human-induced climate change.


How to find out more and help

Stockfree Organic farming helps the planet in many other ways, in its much reduced water consumption and more efficient use of land compared to animal farming for example. Animal wastes pollute the oceans and rivers and create huge health risks; Stockfree Organic farming eliminates this. Organic certification to the Stockfree Organic Standards,  operated by the Vegan-Organic Network and inspected by Soil Association Certification Ltd, is available to growers.
Traditional organic growing systems may be thought of as more environmentally friendly but are not the answer; if commercial organic production expanded to cater for a much larger market there would simply not be enough organic animal manure available because the land area required to feed the necessary animals would be so vast. Stockfree Organic farming challenges centuries of agricultural practise and perception that livestock bring ecological harmony and that it is essential to use animal manures to grow organic crops. VON’s Stockfree Organic certified farmers demonstrate this is not the case. It should be remembered that all life ultimately depends on plants, which do not have to be wastefully passed through an animal in order to be effective.
The Vegan-Organic Network (VON) is a registered charity whose members devised and administer the Stockfree  Organic Standards. VON’s work represents a way of living without violence or exploitation. Join VON and you can find out how to grow your own food in a sustainable and cruelty free way. Please contribute to our work, and join us in our visits to VON’s affiliated commercial Stockfree Organic farms, where these methods are successfully used to feed over 1000 families every week.

A growing solution:
How Stockfree-Organic farming systems can help combat climate change

Climate change is almost universally accepted as being caused by the release, through human activities, of greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere. Only professional deniers, funded by the fossil fuel lobby, and blinkered politicians, still doubt the science and mounting evidence of the human contribution to climate change. The earth’s current period of development has been coined the ‘anthropocene’ – a time when virtually all planetary ecosystems are being affected by, and in many cases seriously degraded by human activity.

Climate-friendly, carbon neutral, and kinder

Stockfree-Organic systems (SO), on a field, smallholding, or domestic scale use no animal inputs, synthetic chemical pesticides, genetically modified organisms, and minimal fossil fuels. Stockfree-Organic farming seeks to minimise reliance on ‘imported’ fertility through in situ composting of all plant wastes, by using living green manures as soil fertility builders, and by practising minimal soil disturbance or ‘reduced tillage’ cultivation.

Food grown using SO systems is eaten locally and in season, so minimising ‘food miles’, and is delivered with as little (reusable) packaging as possible. Food labelled with the Stockfree-Organic Standards Symbol (which is inspected by the Soil Association) carries the ethical assurance that it has been grown to strict organic standards without any animal inputs.

Stockfree-Organic farming is the ‘greenest’, most ecologically sustainable and ‘carbon neutral’ way of producing healthy food.

How can Stockfree-Organic systems help slow down climate change?

They don’t rely on synthetic fertilisers and weedkillers, pesticides and fungicides, all of which consume fossil fuels in manufacture, packaging and transport, releasing large quantities of CO2 and other airborne pollutants.

No animal or fish by-products, or animal manures, are used to maintain soil fertility, which dissociates SO from all forms of livestock production, organic or otherwise. This reduces dependency on fossil fuels for importing, spreading and incorporating manures, and removes demand for livestock by-products e.g. as fertilisers. This adds ‘ethical value’ to food grown in a SO system, guaranteeing it as from a cruelty-free growing method.

Reduced tillage systems used in conjunction with SO help to maintain potentially the greatest ‘carbon reservoir’ on earth – the soil. Exposing the soil to air, usually when it is ploughed, results in organic matter being lost to the atmosphere as CO2. Undisturbed soil, sown with a green manure, and with a thriving microbial ecosystem, ‘locks up’ CO2 from the air, helping reduce atmospheric levels. Minimal cultivation reduces fossil fuel use.

Where organic matter is brought in to boost soil fertility it is sourced locally e.g. from a green waste scheme, to minimise transport emissions. This also utilises a valuable local resource which may otherwise be dumped in landfill, where it generates the powerful GHG methane.

Fossil fuel usage and subsequent release of the most abundant greenhouse gas CO2 is minimised or eliminated. Renewable energy sources – human, wind, solar and water power – are used wherever possible.

Biodiversity is encouraged, helping maintain more stable local ecosystems, which are more resilient to seasonal and other fluctuations caused by human-induced climate change.

Eating within our limits

A growing number of SO growers and farmers are now established in the UK and around the world. SO techniques are tried, proven and economically viable. More and more gardeners are now adopting this sustainable and compassionate way of growing.

The Stockfree-Organic approach offers a viable, holistic and accessible way of ensuring that present and future generations can live safely and comfortably, as well as eat abundantly, healthily and harmoniously within the earth’s finite limits.

A few quotes on the subject…………………..

“Fossil fuel use in manufacturing fertilizer may emit 41 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.”

Livestock’s Long Shadow. Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, 2006

“The potential benefit of a vegan diet in terms of climate impact could be very significant.”

Leaked memo from the Environment Agency to Viva!, May 2007

“Livestock-related releases from cultivated soils may total 28 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.”

Livestock’s Long Shadow. Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, 2006

“Plants alone are the producers of food energy and of soil humus and all animals, including humans, are net consumers.”

Growing Green: Organic Techniques for a Sustainable Future

“…the earth is getting perilously close to climate changes that could run out of control.”

James Hansen, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

“Each of us could make a bigger contribution to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases by becoming a vegan than by converting to an eco-friendly car.”

Jonathon Porritt, Chairman of the UK Sustainable Development Commission

Food with an ethical passport attracting support as consumers look to Organic Plus

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The Vegan Organic Network is celebrating the success of its Stockfree Organic Standards, with four UK growers now carrying the certification alongside their Soil Association symbol.

Food grown using stockfree methods is being dubbed “Organic Plus” because of its high quality, its healthy profile and its contribution to greater sustainability through efficient land and water use. Stockfree growers are required to avoid not only artificial chemicals and fertilisers, but also animal manures and slaughterhouse by-products.

Iain Tolhurst of Tolhurst Organics in Berkshire supplies 400 boxes of stockfree organic produce a week to local customers, with a carbon footprint of just 8 tonnes a year, equivalent to that of an average household.

“Our customers are very keen to support our policies” says Iain “especially our not having to depend on livestock units to produce vegetables”.The Network is now aiming to set up a demonstration site and education centre to encourage the increasing number of farmers, growers and gardeners interested in stockfree techniques.

Carbon Capture in field & garden

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Improved soil condition, increased yields and reduced global warming are just three of the huge potential benefits of biochar, the residue obtained from burning biomass in a fire without oxygen.

Craig Sams of Carbon Gold, writing in the summer edition of the Vegan-Organic Network’s magazine Growing Green International, is clear about biochar’s future role: “We should minimise burning biomass and avoid feeding it to animals – turning it into biochar is our single most effective tool to reverse global warming.”

Sams explains how the addition of biochar to the soil can reduce the need for fertilisers and watering. As biochar stays permanently in the soil, it makes a contribution to carbon dioxide and methane reduction and reduces nitrate leaching, thus lowering emissions of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 300 times more harmful than carbon dioxide.

Biochar is an exciting potential source of income for upland farmers who are struggling to make a living from livestock. Worldwide, more than half of farmland (6 billion hectares) is devoted to producing animal feed. If just 2 billion hectares converted to biochar production, it is estimated that 36 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide would be permanently removed from the atmosphere every year.

Sams calls for an end to government subsidies for meat producers, currently in the form of artificially cheap animal feeds and a lack of carbon accounting or carbon taxes. His company, Carbon Gold, is producing biochar from Soil Association-certified organic woodland waste and thinnings. Simple pyrolosis equipment for producing your own biochar is expected to be available in autumn 2009. See www.carbongold.com

The Vegan-Organic Network now has over 35 affiliated stockfree organic farmers and growers, half in the UK and the rest overseas, mainly in North America. With topics as varied as the importance of earthworms for soil structure, sensational seaweed and solar tractors, Growing Green International is a treasure trove of articles about stockfree growing around the world.

5th Grower Awarded Stockfree Organic Certification

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Tim Carey, a former student at the Welsh College of Horticulture, funded through VON’s bursary scheme, has recently become the fifth UK grower to be awarded Stockfree Organic Certification.

With co-worker Lloyd English,Tim is busy bringing Oakcroft Organic Gardens, one of the UK’s longest standing organic market gardens, back into production and plans to grow vegetables, salads, herbs, fruit and flowers for sale in the Malpas area of South Cheshire, with a view to possibly setting up a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project in the future.

Following the retirement of the garden’s owner Mehr Fardoonji, the land has been out of full production for a couple of years, so initial work involves levelling, improving drainage and dealing with weeds. Plans include the widespread use of green manures, experimentation with no-dig methods and bulk compost production. A feature of the garden is two greenhouses on rails which enable early crops to be started under cover and then ‘put out’ by moving the greenhouses.

Why Vegan Organic?

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This post summarises some key statistics and information on the case for vegan organic.


The livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.
Livestock’s long shadow: Environmental issues and options
United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation  2008

The livestock sector accounts for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions – more than transport, which emits 13.5%.
Livestock’s long shadow: Environmental issues and options
United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation  2008


Grain fed to animals worldwide:

The world output of grain for animal feed is 614,000,000 tonnes
(International Feed Industry Federation website November 2009)
This represents 90kg of grain for every one of the 6,787,900,000 people in the world.

Soya Imports

2,600,000 tonnes of soya were imported into UK in 2008 (and this figure is rising).
(Royal Society / Guardian 16.10.09)
90+% of this is  used as animal feed.
(Environmental Sciency & Policy Feb 09)

Land needed to grow potatoes as opposed to producing beef

Beef = 8173 m2 land per person per year
Potatoes = 274 m2 land per person per year
Prof. V. Smil:  Feeding the World:  A challenge for the 21st Century (London 2000)

Comparative areas of land needed to grow 1 kg of food products

Beef = 20.9 sq m
Pork = 8.9 sq m
Eggs = 3.55 sq m
Vegetables = 0.3 sq m
(The Times, 27 October 2009)

Livestock take up 26% of Earth’s ice-free land and animal feed occupies one-third of global cropland.

Livestock’s long shadow: Environmental issues and options
United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation  2008

Successful Stockfree Farming

Iain Tolhurst of Tolhurst Organics in Berkshire supplies 400 boxes of stockfree organic produce a week to local customers, with a carbon footprint of just 8 tonnes a year, equivalent to that of an average household.
Vegan-Organic Network Press Release 6 April 2009

Changing landscape in upland areas of UK:

“What we now have is a cultural landscape created by the interplay of terrain, wildlife, and human use over the centuries.  Would it be a disaster if, following the sad loss of many hefted flocks, farmers decided not to re-stock?  The ecosystems .. would slowly begin to reclaim their ancient realm… it is customary to attack such embryonic woodland as ‘scrub’, but it is nonetheless rich in birds and insects and is high forest in the making.”
Sir Martin Holdgate, former UK government chief scientist, Director of the World Conservation Union.


Policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions could also substantially reduce obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, road deaths and injuries, and air pollution.
BMJ  2008;336:165-166 (26 January), doi:10.1136/bmj.39468.596262.80

“Cancer incidence in British vegetarians.” Key et al. (2009) British Journal of Cancer. 2009. Volume 101 Issue 1

Vegetarians are 12 per cent less likely to develop cancer than meat eaters, according to new research published in the British Journal of Cancer* in July 2009.

In a study of more than 61,000 people, Cancer Research UK scientists from Oxford followed meat eaters and vegetarians for over 12 years, during which 3,350 of the participants were diagnosed with cancer.

They found that the risk of being diagnosed with cancers of the stomach, bladder and blood** was lower in vegetarians than in meat eaters.

The most striking difference was in cancers of the blood including leukaemia, multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The risk of these diseases was 45 per cent lower in vegetarians than in meat eaters.

Professor Tim Key, study author from the Cancer Research UK Epidemiology Unit at Oxford University, said: “Our large study looking at cancer risk in vegetarians found the likelihood of people developing some cancers is lower among vegetarians than among people who eat meat. In particular vegetarians were much less likely to develop cancers of the blood which include leukaemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. More research is needed to substantiate these results and to look for reasons for the differences.”

The study looked at 20 different types of cancers. The differences in risks between vegetarians and meat eaters were independent of other lifestyle behaviours including smoking, alcohol intake and obesity which also affect the chance of developing cancer

Danger of diseases transferrable from livestock to humans

‘the preparedness to contain emerging zoonotic diseases amounts to about US$300 million per year over the next three years’
WORLD BANK ‘Minding the Stock’  report 2009-11-09


A major study published in February 2005 reconfirmed the link between meat consumption and heart problems. The study, which was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, concluded that among the 29,000 participants, those who ate the most meat were also at the greatest risk for heart disease.

New Database for Animal Free Agriculture – Over 1700 References

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The Vegan-Organic Network, in collaboration with Vegatopia, are pleased to announce a new database of over 1700 scholarly references related to the science, practice and benefits of animal free agriculture:


The database will be immensely useful for those with a research or practitioner interest in animal free agriculture, including growers, government, NGOs, academics and students. The database includes full academic references for every entry. Most entries are also annotated with summary notes and key quotations.

The database is the work of the late Dave of Darlington. Dave was a vegan-organic grower in Durham who made a life work of studying the benefits of animal free agriculture in relation to its implications for world peace and ecology. As part of this, he compiled many references and related information. Dave, a gentle, modest man died in May 2008.Phil Sleigh of the Vegan-Organic Network kindly took over responsibility for the database and has converted it into the Excel spreadsheet and html versions available from the above link. For queries, comments or corrections, contact Phil atvon@sleigh.me.ukFor notes explaining the database fields and the abbreviations used, see 


VON Handbook Success

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After selling out the first edition, the Vegan-Organic Network has now revised and reprinted the highly praised Stockfree Organic handbook Growing Green: Organic Techniques for a Sustainable Future by Jenny Hall and Iain Tolhurst. The book is an essential guide to stockfree-organic growing and is perfect for absolute beginners as well as experienced professionals. It introduces the concept of stockfree-organic food production and shows, through case studies, that when growers abandon the use of slaughterhouse by-products and animal manures they can be rewarded with healthier crops and fewer weeds, pests and diseases.

In an age where dreams of self-sufficiency seem unattainable, Growing Green shows that making a living from growing organic vegetables can be achieved by anyone who is willing to rent land. Until the publication of Growing Green there were no comprehensive guidelines on how to follow the stockfree organic standards at the different scales of vegetable production using tractors, small machinery and hand tools.

Easy to read, beautifully printed on quality recycled paper, with 16 colour photos and many line drawings, at 352 pages this is a substantial publication, one that is now regarded as a benchmark for the future. Published with the help of a grant from the Cyril Corden Trust.

Copies may be purchased from the VON’s online shop for £18.99 (or £11.50 for VON members) excluding postage. Growing Green: Organic Techniques for a Sustainable Future by Jenny Hall and Iain Tolhurst. ISBN 9780955222511.

Trade enquiries for all countries to Eco-Logic Books www.eco-logicbooks.com 01225 484472

VON Scoops Award

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The Vegan Society has announced the winners of its 2009 awards, decided as always by ballot of the Society’s members. The award for Best Vegan Project or Campaign goes to the Vegan-Organic Network, voted to be outstanding amongst a growing number of contenders.

In announcing the award, Amanda Baker, Vegan Society Media Officer, said ‘Congratulations – it’s great to see VON getting the wider recognition which you deserve.’

VON is doubly pleased because this is the second time they have received the award, suggesting that their message of ‘clean, green and cruelty free’ food is really spreading. VON exists to promote organic stockfree methods of growing food, which means avoiding manufactured chemicals, animal manures and slaughterhouse by-products. Since VON published the Stockfree Organic Standards in 2004, 40 stockfree farms have been added to VON’s directory, all successful and some very highly respected in the organic fraternity.

David Graham, Chair of the Vegan-Organic Network, accepted the award ‘on behalf of the lives saved by the 40 farmers affiliated to the Vegan-Organic network who use the stockfree organic method of cultivation. As well as our farmers providing vegetables and fruit to over 3,000 families every week, this system saves from destruction thousands of trees, insects and animals and has the smallest carbon footprint of all farming methods. So a big hug to the members of the Vegan Society from the birds, beasts and trees.’

Vegan-Organic – The New Paradigm

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“Animal products, both meat and dairy, in general require more resources and cause higher emissions than plant-based alternatives” states a report by the United Nations Environment Programme which has hit the early June headlines. *

The report provides further evidence of the huge environmental impact of meat and dairy products, a fact which has already led to initiatives such as meat-free Mondays and a big increase in the consumption of vegetarian and vegan alternatives.

VON (Vegan Organic Network – an international network of farmers, growers, gardeners and anyone interested in food, growing food and the future of food) has a particular interest in the report.

“Once again we see official acknowledgement of the problems caused by livestock farming” says representative Sally Ford. “One look at the picture on page 80 of the report should be enough to convince most people that we need a new paradigm. We don’t claim to have all the answers, but growing vegan-organically is clearly the way forward for a world where abundant animal manure is soon going to be a thing of the past. Vegan-organic growers (or stockfree organic as they are known in the trade) have been successfully producing food all around the world for many years, with zero animal inputs. Fertility is built up and maintained by careful crop rotation, use of green manures, composting and mulching. These techniques can be used anywhere from gardens to field-scale production. Global sustainable food production is our goal and we hope that the UN and other major organisations will soon be promoting vegan-organic techniques worldwide.”

One of the pioneers of stockfree organic produce is Iain Tolhurst whose award-winning Oxfordshire farm produces healthy food for 400 local families each week. His was the first UK farm to be awarded the VON Stockfree Organic certification. Seewww.tolhurstorganic.co.uk

Information about the VON standards and the support and advice the charity offers can be found at www.veganorganic.net  and a wealth of information about commercial stockfree organic growing at www.stockfreeorganic.net

* “Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Consumption & Production – Priority Products & Materials.” is available online at:http://www.unep.org/resourcepanel/documents/pdf/PriorityProductsAndMaterials_Report_Full.pdf

Go Stockfree Organic to avoid Aminopyralid

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Crop losses caused by aminopyralid [a] contaminated manure have hit the headlines once more as the Vegan-Organic Network (VON) urges growers to adopt its climate-friendly stockfree methods.

VON, an international educational charity promoting the benefits of vegan-organic (stockfree organic) horticulture and agriculture, wants to dispel the myth that animal inputs are necessary in order to grow healthy crops in an environmentally sustainable and economically profitable way. Manure does not have to come from animals!

Stockfree organic growers maintain fertility by means of crop rotation, green manures, mulching and composting. Numerous farmers, growers and gardeners have shown the efficacy of these methods over many years. Avoidance of animal manure and slaughterhouse by-products popular with conventional organic growers lessens the chances of pathogens finding their way into food.

“There are still so many dangerous chemicals getting into the food chain” said trustee Peter White. “Going stockfree organic means that growers have far more control over the quality of the crops they produce as, in virtually all cases, fertility is generated on the holding, rather than being brought in from outside. It’s time for growers to look at the viability and many benefits of stockfree organic alternatives.”

Information about the VON standards and the support and advice the charity offers can be found at www.veganorganic.net  and a wealth of information about commercial stockfree organic growing at www.stockfreeorganic.net  For more information about aminopyralid, see http://tinyurl.com/aminopyralid

[a] Aminopyralid is the active ingredient in a broadleaf herbicide used to control weeds.

Growing Green Going Strong

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The Vegan-Organic Network (VON) marks the 25th edition of its fascinating magazine Growing Green International with a bumper issue full of encouragement and sustenance for vegan-organic (stockfree organic) growers everywhere.

From Arizona to the French Pyrenees, from Cheshire to Florida, from Essex to New Mexico, from Sri Lanka to Cornwall: all around the world, vegan-organic growers are sowing the seeds of progressive agriculture and finding the time to write about them for the vegan-organic movement’s most enduring publication. The history of the movement is given prominence in an interview with pioneer Mary Bryniak, a member of the Dalziel O’Brien family, who established one of the first vegan-organic (and indeed one of the first organic) market gardens in Leicester during the 1940s and 50s.

Others look to the future with articles by Susan Morris, David Stringer and John Walker about growing your own healthy food, community food production and the use of plastic in gardening. Student Jane Fanshaw reports on her Organic Horticulture & Project Management FdSc course at Glyndŵr University, where stockfree organic standards and principles are integral to her studies.

Amongst technical issues covered is the vital topic of excess nitrogen through agriculture. The magazine also features nutritional information, seasonal recipes, book reviews and even a crossword: something for everyone,whether you’re a commercial grower, an allotment holder, a gardener or just interested in the future of food.

New Scientist Article Provokes Massive Response

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Individuals and groups representing vegetarians and vegans up and down the country have been responding to a recent article in New Scientist magazine.

VON (Vegan-Organic Network) welcomes Bob Holmes’ article “Veggieworld: Why Eating Greens Won’t Save The Planet” (issue 2769 14 July 2010) as part of the increasing debate about the future of food but was disappointed by its muddled logic and several omissions.

Holmes gives figures for  the greenhouse gas emissions of beef, chicken and pork but omits plant protein from his comparison. He quotes a 21% reduction in land use if the world went vegan, yet later talks about marginal land as if it could not be re-forested, used for energy crops etc. He omits to mention the environmental damage caused by the tanning of leather, avoiding the comparison with a pair of shoes made from a renewable crop such as hemp.

He posits that the wealth=meat scenario will continue, with intensive rearing of animals being the least environmentally damaging solution. However, if the U.S. and Europe were to go vegan, given that the rest of the world frequently follows the West’s lead, particularly in dietary matters, a reversal of the paradigm could happen very easily.

“And that says nothing of animal welfare issues”  says Holmes. In our more enlightened times, when evidence of animals’ intelligence and sensitivity is piling up and healthy vegans abound, animal welfare can and should no longer be ignored. Vegans commonly do not suggest that the world should go vegan overnight, but point out that there is a wealth of difference between the careful rearing of one or two “family” animals in a third world country and the cruelty of the industrialised model.

Holmes seems to accept that an increase in meat production would be environmentally disastrous without any mention of the alternative: stockfree organic agriculture, a proven, clean, green, efficient and cruelty-free method of food production.

Manure may be less important to farmers due to the current availability of artificial fertilisers, but Holmes does not look forward to the fast-approaching post-oil era where green manures, mulching, composting and crop rotation will be the norm.

Farmers, growers and gardeners all around the world are turning to stockfree organic methods: food grown for local consumption without animal inputs. The time has come to stop quibbling over which animal foods are least harmful, to accept that eating animals is not sustainable and instead to grow and eat the plants directly ourselves.

VON Statement on the Foresight Report: The Future of Food and Farming (2011)

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The report can be seen at

The comments below were sent to the Government Office for Science, with copies to the APPG for Agroecology, the Secretary of State for EFRA and the Secretary of State for International Development.

The Vegan-Organic Network (VON) welcomes this Report but with very substantial reservations.

The Report rightly emphasises the interconnectedness of food security and the environment and states that much can be done in farming to limit environmental damage.  We applaud its emphasis on the needs of poor countries and the crucial importance of biodiversity.  However, we deplore the myth of ‘sustainable intensification’ which the Report presents.

Our biggest reservation is the underlying proposition that technology will save the day, and particularly the Report’s strong inclination towards GM technology.  It suggests that objections to genetic modification derive from ‘ethics, values and politics’ – which amounts to a crass dismissal of the careful scientific case made by those who oppose GM.  And it welcomes, for instance, the continuing experiments in GM cattle fodder which aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from dairy and beef cattle.  VON considers this a waste of research resources and would like to see the unnatural and environmentally harmful practice of feeding grain to animals phased out altogether.  Neither does VON share Sir John Beddington’s enthusiasm for the use of cloned livestock.  As for increasing the supply of grain for human consumption, we are sceptical when we read, for instance, that the world class agri-business Syngenta, in partnership with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre, will ultimately benefit the poorest in the poor countries.

It is disappointing that a Government Report should hold to the perspective of the economic status quo, talking of ‘maximising the benefits of globalisation’ and seeing no need to limit the growth of huge food corporations (provided that competition is not threatened). VON’s unambiguous position, by contrast, is to welcome local markets and to encourage co-operatives, thereby increasing sustainability and equity.

The Report states that livestock products require considerably more resources than other foods – but talks of ‘the importance of a balanced diet and the role of a moderate intake of livestock products’, as if the health, environmental and animal welfare benefits of a vegan diet were not widely acknowledged. It states that ‘increases in the consumption of meat … will have major implications for resource competition and sustainability’ and even goes as far as to suggest a possible tax on livestock produce – in other words, meat in the future will be available only to the rich.  VON’s recommendations for closed-system, stockfree farming would benefit everyone’s health and the environment at the same time.

We profoundly regret that the Report does nothing at all to encourage responsible organisations and individuals who are already taking action through their activities and food choices to limit food’s environmental impact and benefit health.  We look forward to a future Report which recommends a healthy diet of pulses, grains, fruits and vegetables which can be grown locally in most climates, without the need for animal inputs.  Such a Report would point towards the healthiest, most sustainable and environmentally beneficial of all options currently open to us for tackling the most formidable challenges of our time.

Star on BBC Gardening!

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The BBC are looking for vegans to be on ‘The Big Allotment Challenge.’ Are you an amateur kitchen gardener with the skills and dedication to compete? Someone who can cultivate the perfect carrot or make their green tomatoes into award winning chutney? There must be plenty of us within VON!

Successful applicants will be offered the chance to turn a plot of land in their beautiful walled garden into a patch of beauty.

If you are interested, contact grow@silverriver.tv or call 0207 907 3401 for an application form.

VON at Stop the Badger Cull Demo

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Web Demo

People from all over the country descended on Birmingham to take part in Britain’s biggest anti-badger cull demonstration.

Around 2,000 people packed into Victoria Square on Saturday (Feb 22) to take part in the Birmingham March and Rally through the streets of the city.

Many waved flags, carried placards and banners opposing the planned controversial badger culls while others even dressed up as badgers to hammer their message home.

Campaigners then walked through the city streets chanting “stop the cull” as they marched while volunteers handed out leaflets to people in the city to pass on the anti-cull message.

Amanda Callaghan, aged 47 and her mother Carol, aged 66, both from Kingstanding, said they were outraged by the decision to cull the badgers.

Amanda said: “I saw that the demonstration was taking place and I just wanted to join in and offer my support.

 “What the Government is doing is totally wrong. Badgers are lovely creatures and to see the numbers decimated in this way when there could be other options is just so terribly wrong.”

Sally Roberts travelled all the way from from Land’s End in Cornwall to take part in the march.

She said: “There needs to be a programme of vaccination rather than the culling of badgers. I am really passionate about this as are the thousands of people who have come to Birmingham today to protest about the Government’s culling plans.

“It is a pointless exercise which could lead to an increase in TB as badgers will flee and spread the disease while they do. The culls have so far cost around £4,000 per dead badger – a terrible waste of money. The time has come to stop the cull once and for all.”

Speaking from a constructed stage Birmingham Yardley MP John Hemming said: “While I do have every sympathy for farmers culling badgers it is not the solution. Instead of culling badgers we need to look at a badger TB vaccination programme.”

The first badger cull in 15 years began in South West England in September which means that around 5,000 badgers will be shot in Somerset and Gloucestershire.

Farmers say a cull reduces the spread of TB in cattle but protesters say it is “inhumane and ineffective”.

An online petition against culling has gathered 300,000 signatures and former Queen guitarist Brian May led a 1,000-strong march through London to hand the petition in to Downing Street.

The disease has seen more than 300,000 cattle slaughtered in the UK over the past decade.

Anti-cull protesters say the disease would be better controlled with stronger biosecurity measures to protect the 13 million cattle moved from UK farms each year as well as a badger TB vaccination programme carried out by volunteers.

The pilot culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset were launched with the aim of killing 70 per cent of badgers in each area within six weeks by “free shooting”.

But at the end of the six-week period back in December the shooters had failed to meet half of their target and the Government controversially extended both culls.

Those against the cull say the £1million spent on policing just the first six weeks of culling in Gloucestershire could have secured five years of volunteer-led badger vaccination over a similarly large area.

However, the Government appears to be pressing ahead with its intentions to roll out the cull to other parts of the UK this year.


Vegan permaculture courses in the UK

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Two permaculture design courses run by vegans (and VON members) are takng place in the UK this summer.

Graham Burnett and Nicole Vosper  are running a course in Somerset split over two periods 28 June – 2 July and 2-6 August, while Aranya and Tony Martin (below) are running a course in South Wales 5-19 July.

For more information see http://spiralseed.co.uk/vegan-permaculture-design-certificate-course-somerset-summer-2014 (Graham and Nicole’s course)

http://designedvisions.com/course-dates-mainmenu-83/pdcs/276-ystradgynlais-pdc.html (Aranya and Tony’s course).

Nicole and Tony both have articles in the latest issue of Growing Green International.



Soil Management Seminar

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http://www.organicresearchcentre.com/manage/authincludes/article_uploads/pictures/Tolly_litter.jpgSoil management seminar for growers and gardeners, those working on land, students and apprentices

31 March 2014, 10 am – 4pm

Venue: Tolhurst Organic Market Garden, Hardwick Estate, Whitchurch-on-Thames, Reading, RG8 7RD

Few people realise just how dynamic and wonderful the soil is beneath their feet. Get down to real basics, and back to earth, with this popular and stimulating seminar run by organic experts, Iain Tolhurst and Roger Hitchings. The seminar covers all aspects of soil, from its creation to its final use. It encourages the delegate to revere and cherish this precious resource.

The seminar is a participative workshop, with trainees joining in, sharing their ideas and questions with their group; and working in groups as part of the day’s activities. At the end of the day you will go home with a much better understanding of what your soil is, how it works, and how you will be able to ensure it is still there for the future. We will be looking at soils, so if you bring a sample along, we may get to have an in-depth look at it.

Course cost (local and organic lunch included):

  • Reduced price for eligible participants (see below) £50 + VAT
  • Full price for participants not-eligible for funding £100 + VAT

On-line booking is available here

Please check information on discounts below before booking.

You can also register directly and pay by cheque, BACS or credit card by contacting Gillian Woodward.

100% fee reduction available for young people from Berkshire

If you are 26 or under, resident in Berkshire and training (student/apprentice) to or starting a career in agriculture, you may qualify for one of our Gordon Palmer Memorial Trust bursaries. Please do NOT complete the on-line registration form, but e-mail Gillian Woodward with details of your address, age and circumstances to check eligiblity.

50% fee reduction for English producers and others obtaining a living from agriculture or agricultural products

Eligibility includes producers and employees of producer groups, supply chain businesses, direct retailers, small consultancy businesses, but not multiple retailers, government departments, agencies or public bodies including universities. Participants must be living/working in England.

To benefit please download, complete and sign the funding application form (243 kb pdf file) and send to Gillian Woodward at ORC. You can still register and pay on-line.

This project has been supported through the Rural Development Programme for England, which is jointly funded by Defra and the European Union

Free Food Event Manchester

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The Vegan Organic Network have brought some cheer to 2014, with our free food and short film events. The films have included: Making the Connection Farming with Graham Cole and Ian Tolhusrt; Bejamin Zephania; Alterantive cures for cancer and diabetes; Wha Me Eat – Macka B;  Man-Steve Cutts; Famous Vegetarians and Vegans and Cows with Guns to name but a few.

We are linking the events in with a local food bank, we have now supplied food to over one hundred local people. The frozen food comes via the Shiva Trust who give out vegan food to the homeless.

At the events we provide hot food and  drinks and a wide variety of leaflets and recipe books, the films are shown in a room with space for about fifty people.

Feedback from the events has been really positive with a number of people saying they want to become vegan.

The events have been made possible by the St Wilfreds Enterprise Centre who have provided us with a free space, the Wesley Furniture Project who have supplied a number of freezers, the Tea Time Collective a local vegan cafe who have helped with catering equipment and heating up the pies and the hard working VON volunteers who make it all happen.

Keep a lookout on our events diary to when and where we will be next. Any one interested in helping out email: info@veganorganic.net

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.


Squash & Pumpkin Festival at Hardwick

Not-to-be-missed Squash & Pumpkin Festival at Hardwick 27 October 2013

by Rose TolhurstThe Squash & Pumpkin Festival at Hardwick is a community event, hosted by Tolhurst Organic, on Sunday 27 October, from 11 am to 5pm. Free admission for walkers and cyclists.

Says Iain Tolhurst, renowned organic grower “The first edition of the Squash & Pumpkin Festival at Hardwick will be a community effort with social aims in the local area. The festival will celebrate the harvest and splendour of the season, with an exhibition of large pumpkins and most beautiful squash, and sales of the best local foods in the area”.

Festival visitors will be offered an improvised farmers’ market, craft stalls, food and drinks, as well as guided tours of historic Hardwick House, only open at special occasions.
This is an interactive event, where visitors will make the things happen, by entering the Carved and Biggest Pumpkin and Best in Show Squash competitions, by showing off in their best Autumn dress, by rolling pumpkins up and down and by singing along.

Local businesses will benefit, too, by selling their best ware and community groups will contribute through their volunteers and stands.

We aim at “zero-waste” targets, by recycling and reusing all unused items.

With a successful first-time (pilot) festival, Tolhurst Organic hope to establish the event as an annual tradition at the farm.

The Festival is made possible with the kind support from Vegan Organic Network www.veganorganic.net and a small grant from the Chilterns AONB Conservation Board www.chilternsaonb.org

S&P Festival FINAL

by Tamara Schiopu

Green Manures for Healthy Soils and Crops Seminar

Hungarian grazing rye, one of my favourite green manures as it forms a solid cover & keeps the soil structure together in winter rain

Iain Tolhurst has been a practising organic vegetable producer for over 37 years, one of the original pioneers of the organic movement in the UK. He is internationally renowned and has taught organic systems in many parts of the world. The wonderful highly acclaimed organic farm on the beautiful Hardwick Estate that he runs is the main tool in the practical learning exercise.

Lunch is for many a highlight of the day, as much as possible of the food is from the farm with everything including the tea and coffee being organic. The day starts and ends with tea/coffee/biscuits and you will find great company to chat with, in a beautiful environment.

The seminar starts at 10am and lasts for 6 hours, including lunch. Cost is £55 + VAT. Discounts apply.

More information:

Monday, 21 October 2013, 10 am – 4pm Green Manures for Healthy Soils and Crops

Horticultural crop systems make heavy demands on soil fertility and soil sustainability, often requiring large amounts of inputs to support fertility due to excessive nutrient losses and crop off-take. Better use of green manure systems can make dramatic improvements to soil fertility and structure, enabling a more viable and productive system whilst dramatically reducing inputs as well as enabling a more self-sustaining system. The workshop explores the way in which green manures can be integrated into cropping through modified rotations.

To see more details and to book visit our dedicated page on Eventbrite: http://greenmanureswithiaintolhurst.eventbrite.co.uk/

Snowdon Vegan Cake Party 2013

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Snowdon Cake Party2 small

Snowdon Vegan Cake Party 27th July 2013

What a brilliant day!

About forty Vegans walked up Snowdon along the Rhyd Ddu path that lead us to the summit of Snowdon. On the summit we displayed our banner and gave cake to the many people gathered, the sky was blue and the views incredible. We partied on the top of Snowdon for about an hour, then descended down the South Ridge.

At the bottom of the South Ridge we ate more cake, took more photos then went in two directions. One group took the route back to the car park, the other group took a longer route back to our camp site.

Danny(11) and Izaak(10) the only children on the walk took the longer route about 12miles in all, they started walking at 11am and got back to camp at 8pm.

Izaak said: I walked to the Summit of Snowdon it was it great fun, but the ridge was a bit scary, there was a massive drop on one side and on the other was just fog.

Seminars with Tolhurst Organic

Renowned stock-free organic grower, Ian Tolhurst is delivering a number of seminars this year on many aspects of vegan organic growing and agroecological methods of managing land.


Tolhurst Organic lies just outside the village of Whitchurch-on-Thames in south Oxfordshire. Nestled between the Chilterns and the river Thames, the farm of 19 acres is situated in the picturesque Hardwick Estate, with 17 acres in two fields and 2 acres in the 500 year old walled garden.

Iain Tolhurst, along with his business partner Lin, have held the organic symbol for over 30 years, thus making Tolhurst Organic one of the longest running organic vegetable farms in England. The farm doesn’t only hold the “Soil Association” symbol but was the first to attain the “Stockfree Organic” symbol in 2004, and has had no grazing animals and no animal inputs to any part of the farm for the last 10 years

Northern Vegan Festival was a huge hit!

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The Vegan Organic Network at the Northern Vegan Festival Saturday 13th April 2013

Helpers: Dan, Cherry, Izaak, Danny, Jill, Roger, Jane, Kirsch, Andy, Lima and David

A lot of preparation went into our stall for this event: Cherry made a juice and smoothie sign, Jane and David went to Penrith to have our stockfree organic grain milled, Jane made some delicious pasties which sold out on the day and all the fruit and veg etc had to be purchased.

A number of companies were generous with donations, UK Juices gave us a great little juicer which a lot of people were interested in, Pulsin and Yaoh supplied us with free protein powder and Koko gave us a good supply of coconut milk.

One could say the event was too successful, 2 500 people came through the doors and people had to wait in a queue that went round Sachas hotel, and a number of people gave up on queuing. The event organizers Roddy and Kelly sent out food and refreshments to those waiting to get in. Next year they will be looking at getting a much bigger venue and VON will be involved in helping to organize the Manchester 2014 Vegan Festival.

Our stall was busy all day with people wanting juice and smoothies from beginning to end, we signed up new members and lots of people left their names for more information.

The VON helpers worked hard, after helping on the stand Jill gave a yoga lesson to a packed class.  Izaak, Danny and Cherry were great from beginning to end, helping to set up the stall the night before and taking it down after the event.

Each Vegan event we attend is getting bigger every year, more people are becoming veggie and fewer animals are being killed as a result.

Manchester Vegan Festival 1


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Brighton VegFest 2013 Sat 16th and Sun 17th


Cherry, Izaak and moi set off on Friday afternoon from Manchester, although we did want to be ec

o as possible we didn’t ride the Trike all the way, in fact it was only from the back of the van into the lift at Hove Town Hall.

We set up the stall on Saturday, drilled the last few holes in the VON sign and just got it together for the 11am start.

Saturday was not as busy as Sunday, it was estimated that over 7 000 people attended over the two days. The mill proved to be a good attraction, with people milling thei

r own Stockfree Organic Flour – the first product ever to display our

symbol. The mill was generously don

ated by junior Wondermill (it cost over £200 to buy).

vf10We noticed that it was the older generation that persevered with the grinding (it’s all in the hips), a lot of young people didn’t seem to be accustomed to using a bit of elbow grease, for the youngsters we’re thinking about making the mill pedal powered.

On Saturday afternoon VON was in the programme to do a workshop on milling (which had only arrived a few days before the event), as the workshop space was several floors from our stall,I decided to do a talk on Vegan Organics, which a number of people attended and all joined VON after the discussion.

Thanks to John and Ziggy who helped out on Sunday, they brought along a number of books and merchandise all on their trolley. Izaak and Cherry were a great help from beginning to end; loading, unloading, putting up the stand, giving out leaflets and talking to people at the stall.


Fun was had by vf3all and hopefully we will see a number of faces at the Cornwall Vegan Gathering 17th-20th August and the Snowdon Vegan weekend 27th, 28th July.

Please let me know if you would like to help out at the Northern Vegan Festival in Manchester on 13th April, we will be selling cakes as well as giving out information; any cake contributions are more than welcome.


This Saturday in Manchester and the following Saturday there is a vegan free food give away, lots of yummy food donated by Vegan food companies to promote the Northern Vegan Festival 13th April.

We are meeting at 12midday on Market St outside Holland and Barrett or if it’s raining under cover outside Boots.

Hope to see you soon!

Dan Graham

Vegan Organic Grower? Want to join our directory?

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We are compiling a non-commercial Directory for VON home, allotment and community growers, to provide a link and reference point for vegan organic gardeners. Would you like to join us? It is on similar lines to our Commercial Stockfree Directory.  And will have a dedicated Advisory Panel for help and advice for those new to this type of gardening.


New One Day Training Courses

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New One Day Training Courses @ Debdale Eco Centre & Hulme Community Garden Centre

Plotting the Future

This introductory course is for anyone who is interested in Organic Gardening.  Participants will learn the basics of organic food growing and how to grow fruit and vegetables organically.

The course will cover:

  • Getting Started – How to get your area ready for planting
  • Your Soil – Understand different types of soil and how to make the most of it for your growing
  • Planning your patch – How to encourage biodiversity and sustainability
  • Organic Vegetable Growing – From the very basic seed sowing and propogation techniques to more advanced vegetable growing for the trickier vegetables
  • Organic Fruit Growing – How to grow fruit in small spaces
  • Maintaining and developing your produce – How to look after, harvest, and store your produce


Who is this course for?

We offer tailored versions of this course, that are aimed towards:

  • Local residents across Manchester, Stockport and Tameside
  • New and prospective allotment holders
  • Housing or residents associations
  • Allotment holders – The allotment course sessions are primarily geared for new allotment holders to give them the confidence, skills and knowledge to maintain a sustainable, productive and well kept plot. However, we find that existing plot holders also like to attend this course as a refresher and that they do still learn something new.

Length of the courses: We run a one day course programme and also a 6 week course programme across both sites.

Next Courses – All one day courses

Tuesday 26th February @ Hulme Community Garden Centre

Friday 1st March @ Debdale Eco Centre

Friday 15th March @ Debdale Eco Centre

All Couses run from 10am – 4pm and cost £25 per person. If you recieve benefits there is a reduced cost of £5 (evidence needed)

For more information and for booking details please contact Marva for the Debdale Courses @ marva@debdale-ecocentre.org.uk or phone 0161 220 9199 and for courses held at Hulme please contact Katherine @ thetrainer@hulmegardencentre.org.uk or phone 0161 868 0821.

Debdale Address
Debdale Eco Centre, Debdale Park, 1075 Hyde Rd, Gorton, Manchester. M18 7LJ

Hulme Address
Hulme Community Garden Centre, Old Birley Street, Hulme, Manchester. M15 5RG

Rufford Farm Visit

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Vegan group gathering. Herewith details;
Sunday 7th April 2013 at 2 p.m.
Rufford Farm, Hobbs Lane, Beckley, East Sussex TN31 6 TU
SPRING IS IN THE AIR – Come and celebrate with spring flowers and a mock Provencal lunch.
RSVP 01797 260610 or 07761679001 or e-mail j.berry.316@btinternet.com

If poss would like whoever comes to bring something to share foodwise.
Can provide details of public transport if required.

Hello from our Editor!

Hello! My name’s Rob Jackson and I am the new editor of Growing Green International.

My interest in vegan-organics started when I was fresh out of university, evaluating my life and plans. I’d already been vegan for about five years by then and I’d started to realise there was something of a conflict between veganism and organic production. Discovering that organic farmers were using manure from animals and slaughterhouse products was a revelation. People I spoke with thought it was just one of those compromises we have to make living in the real (i.e. non-vegan) world. But that wasn’t good enough for me.

Enter the Vegan-Organic Network who shone a light on the situation – there was a way! I got involved quite quickly taking on the task of compiling a database of farms and volunteer opportunities across the world (this is still available, though a little out of date – and some has morphed into the current Farm Directory and Centre Network) and learning as much as I could about the techniques available.

I was one of the first beneficiaries of the VON Bursary scheme and studied for an HNC in Organic Horticulture at the Welsh College of Horticulture, while I volunteered full-time on their farm. I enjoyed my time there and learnt a lot. I went on to work with The Vegan Society as Education Officer for four years, but in the meantime stayed at Steward Wood, on a holding in Southern Spain, at Drimlabarra on the Isle of Arran and Dial House for an introduction to Permaculture.

I have a lot to thank VON for and it’s great to be able to contribute again to an organisation that holds such enormous promise and brings so many important strands into focus.

I’d like to say a big thank you to Kath Clements for her hard work on the magazine over recent years and for her help in handing over the work to me. I shan’t be doing things very different from the way Kath did them, but if there’s something you think I should or shouldn’t be doing please let me know. I’d also like to say a big thank you to everyone else who makes this magazine possible: the layout designer, the cover designer, the proof readers and of course all of the fantastic contributors.

The magazine reflects a wide range of information and opinions on the subject of vegan-organic growing. We try to feature a mixture of articles that cover practical, technical, and ethical issues, as well as more humorous items, hints and tips, letters and illustrations. And we love submissions from members! If you would like to send anything to be considered for the magazine please contact me at editor@veganorganic.net.

Here’s wishing you all the best in your vegan-organic adventures!

Rob Jackson, Editor



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,


VON membership secretary.

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Love Food, Love Animals

VON at Lincoln Vegan Fayre 10th November 2012


Free Food including – delicious sweet and savoury tasters!

Tombola and Guess The Cake Weight Competition!

Lots of stalls including, arts and crafts, food, books Talks, presentations, workshops and information stalls on Vegansim, Vegetarianism and Health Cooking demo by Karl Davison, Head Chef from Café Zoot! And much much more!


VON Volunteers: Izaak, Josh, Angelina, Roger and Dan After an early start leaving Manchester, we were greeted at the event by Lincoln Veggies who helped unload our car and made us welcome. All the campaign stalls were upstairs. The main attraction was on the ground floor with a wide variety of free vegan delights for people to sample.

On the first floor we were accompanied by about 15 other stands including League Against Cruel Sports –Stop the badger kill, Anivisection and Animal Rights Groups and groups selling animal friendly products. There was a relaxed, friendly atmosphere in the hall with a steady flow of people it didn’t get too busy, and people had time to talk with us.

Roger, Josh and Angelina arrived early and helped through out the day.

Izaak and Josh went round the event selling the Growing Green International Magazines and Growing Green DVDs, Roger and Angelina charmed people to the stand, signing up new members and selling over a dozen of Jenny’s and Tolly’s book ‘Growing Green-Organic Techniques for a Sustainable Future’.

Izaak took the cake (literally), he guessed the weight of a magnificent vegan cake and won it-yum yum.

Big thanks to Lincoln Veggies for putting on a great day!


Next event is Compassionate Derby

Date: Saturday 24th November 2012 Venue: Darwin Suite, Assembly Rooms, Market Place, Derby, DE1 3AH Tickets: Free Admisssion Description:

Compassionate Derby is an exciting showcase of healthy, environmentally friendly and cruelty-free food and lifestyle products. As well as all the delicious food on offer, there will also be a range of ethical organisations and charities there, and a series of talks throughout the day, so there’ll be plenty opportunity to learn, discuss and explore some new ideas in a friendly and welcoming environment.

Please let me know if you would like a lift from Manchester or if you will be going there direct and would like to help on the stand.


Green, Clean and fool of surprises!


Northern Vegan Festival

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The Vegan Organic Network will be holding a stall at the Northern Vegan Festival, the largest event of its kind in the North in April 2013!

There will be 90 stalls offering everything vegan, from toiletries, makeup and clothing to gifts, cakes and chocolate, as well as a chance to find out about national and local vegan organisations and groups.

Delicious food will be available from local vegan caterers and we will have some free samples from some of the finest vegan food companies, so make sure you come early before it’s all gone!

There will be two rooms for talks, children’s activities, films, entertainment and cookery demos throughout the day.

The Northern Vegan Festival will take place in Sachas Hotel in the heart of Manchester City Centre on Saturday 13th April 2013 from 10am – 6pm.

Admission is just £1 (under 12’s free) payable at the door.

More information: http://www.northernveganfestival.com/

Join VON at Compassionate Derby

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VON will be doing a stall at Compassionate Derby on Saturday 24th November 202

Compassionate Derby is a showcase of healthy, environmentally friendly and cruelty-free food and lifestyle products. We believe you can live a happy, healthy and responsible life without resorting to health food stereotypes and if you want to know how, then why not stop by on Saturday the 24th November. It’s free to get in and there will be plenty of free samples to try inside as well!

As well as all the delicious food on offer, there will also be a range of ethical organisations and charities there, and a series of talks throughout the day, so there’ll be plenty opportunity to learn, discuss and explore some new ideas in a friendly and welcoming environment.

More information: http://www.compassionatederby.com

VON will be at Lincoln Veggie Fayre

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When: Saturday 10th November 2012
Venue:  Trinity United Reformed Church, Garmston Street, Lincoln LN2 1HZ

About the Fayre: There will be a variety of food to sample from leading vegetarian companies, as well as ideas for tasty dishes to try at home. Staff will be on hand to offer help and advice, as well as lots of free literature to take home.

Please come & meet us, and if you can volunteer on the day, please also get in touch.

VON at the West Midlands Vegan Festival

VON at the West Midlands Vegan Festival in Wolverhampton,  27th October 2012 11am-6pm & Afterparty

·         Save Animals
·         Save the Planet
·         Save Yourself

VON volunteers: Izaak, Simon, Nick, Nicki and Dan

We arrived about an hour before the event started to set up our stall, when we arrived at least fifty people were queuing to get in and by the start the queue had grown to at least 200.

The venue filled quickly, this was not a problem as the Civic Hall had three floors with activities going on throughout the day.

We were on the ground floor with all the other stalls and stands; consisting of animal rights campaigns, food companies giving away freebees and stands selling clothes, jewellery and cosmetics.

In the basement, there was a dedicated kid’s space, an entertainment stage and various cafes selling vegan food with plenty of room to sit down, relax and enjoy the entertainment while eating.

Workshops and talks were held on the first floor in a number of rooms. Nick and Nicki gave a talk on the vegan project they are involved with in India: The Sadhana Reforestation Project. Sadhana Forest started its ecological revival and sustainable living work on December 19th 2003; volunteers are welcome on the project for more information visit: sadhanaforest.org

Our stall attracted a lot of interest, new members and a number of current members came by and to say hello.

Izaak showed great salesmanship, at the tail end of the event he took the VON DVDs and magazines round and I think he managed to sell at least one to each person left. Also he won the rowing and push up competition for his age group (10 year olds).

The night was young and we were hungry after loading the van, so we went on to the after party at a venue round the corner. The venue had a full vegan menu and entertainment; we enjoyed our meals while being entertained by various musicians including Gareth Evans from the VON garden party, who rocked.

Thank you to the West Midlands Vegan crew for putting on a great event!

Farming for Forever

Farming for Forever – Cupcake Reception

Jasmijn de Boo, CEO of The Vegan Society is delighted to invite Vegan Organic Network Members to a ‘Farming for Forever’ afternoon reception on Wed 31 Oct in Portcullis House.

Parliament has priorities for healthy lifestyles, sustainable food production, biodiversity,  the UK green economy and greenhouse gas emissions.  Plant-based solutions hold the potential to help achieve all these goals, and more.

The UK has world-leading expertise in proven economically, socially and environmentally sustainable plant-based food and farming.  Local, seasonal, UK-grown crops eaten first-hand by consumers can be a major part of the solutions to the obesity, rural economics and global climate change crises.

What: Farming for Forever reception
Where: Room T, First Floor, Portcullis House
Date: Wed 31 Oct (World Vegan Eve 2012)
Time: 13:30 – 14:30
Event sponsored by: Kerry McCarthy MP
RSVP: Amanda Baker, pr@vegansociety.com by Tue 30 Oct 2012

Samples of vegan ‘Ms Cupcakes’ will be available to take away. This event is co-hosted by Cathy Jamieson MP and Chris Williamson MP in association with Jasmijn de Boo, CEO of The Vegan Society.

Important Notes: You must bring these event details with you (e.g. print out this email) to pass through Portcullis House security, which could take 15 minutes. Enter Parliament at the Portcullis House entrance (marked as 4 on this map: http://www.parliament.uk/documents/facilities/maps/colmap.pdf).

Coming Soon!

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West Midlands Vegan Festival Saturday, 27 Oct 2012

The Wolves Civic, North Street, Wolverhampton, WV1 1RQ

Lincoln Veggie Fayre: Saturday 10th November 2012

Venue:  Trinity United Reformed Church, Garmston Street, Lincoln LN2 1HZ


World Vegan Month 1 – 30 Nov 2012


Description www.veganmonth.com


Compassionate Derby is on the 24th November 2012

Last year had 700 people through the door, but the event was organized very last minute.


The Northern Vegan Festival, which will be taking place on Saturday 13th April 2013 at Sachas Hotel in Manchester City Centre

Garden Party Fun!

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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:


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.



Other visits may be offered at a later date.

Sponsor Izaak

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A message from one of our members:

Hi! I’m Izaak. I am nine years old and have been a vegan for nine years. I help VON which is an organisation that grows organic food without using animal products.(e.g. Fish,Blood,Bone). For more information go to www.veganorganic.net.

Animal Aid is another charity but this one exposes animal cruelty. For more information go to www.animalaid.org.uk.

Soon I am going on a sponsored walk for these charities. Can you please sponsor me.

Send the money to Izaak, 4 Mallow Street,Hulme, Manchester M15 5GD


Plymouth Vegan Fayre a Success

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VON Volunteer Rod Skinner reports back from Plymouth Vegan Fayre…

Today’s Vegan Fayre at Plymouth was a success. Our stall was popular; I gave out surplus Land Cress and Chamomile seedlings to those new to gardening, managed to sell some bags and DVDs and answered a lot of questions about reducing slug damage!

After a few hiccups, the organisers managed to provide a room and a computer for me to show our “Growing Green” DVD of Ian and Karin. This had the usual result of opening the eyes of the audience to the potential of Stockfree Organic growing and starting a stimulating discussion, which ranged from Climate Change to Mycorrhiza.

The DVD had an audience of 14 and we would have struggled to cram more than that into the room provided. People came and went in the main hall without needing tickets, so it was not possible to count them. However, I never saw less than 30 at any one time, so I would estimate the total attendance to be at least 200. With the stall and the talk, we got our message across to a lot of interested Plymouth vegans today.


posted in: Books on Growing | 0

All available from our online shop


Organic Techniques for a Sustainable Future, by Jenny Hall and Iain Tolhurst. £18.99 (or £11.50 if you’re a VON member). This book is published by VON and is an essential reference guide for all private and commercial organic growers, researchers and students. This book introduces the concept of stockfree organic and shows, through case studies, that when growers abandon the use of slaughterhouse by-products and manures they can be rewarded with healthier crops, less weeds, pests and diseases. The reader will be taken through each Stockfree Organic Standard step by step and learn how to grow and sell 60 different vegetables with confidence.

Growing Sustainability – NEW

by Dave of Darlington. £8.50 (or £4.50 if you’re a VON member). The book is a compilation of the writings of Dave of Darlington – a treasury of useful information for gardeners and farmers, gleaned from Dave’s long experience and enhanced by well-informed thoughts on the ethics and politics behind farming.

Permaculture – A Beginner’s Guide

by Graham Burnett: £8.00. A guide on the principles of sustainability and working with rather than against nature on your land. Graham Burnett is a vegan permaculturist. New updated second edition, and now in colour.

Earth Writings

by Graham Burnett. £9.00. If you’re not looking for the solution, you’re part of the problem… get out there and Do It, with help from this book.

Towards an Ecology of the Self

by Graham Burnett. £3.00. Explores the role of the ‘personal’ in permaculture design systems.

Happy, Caring, Healthy and Sharing

by Graham Burnett. £2.50. An introduction to the green and compassionate way of ecological veganism.

One Thousand Million Reasons

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Stockfree Organic Standards in Agriculture

One thousand million animals are slaughtered in Britain alone. We base this horrendous number on DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and  Rural Affairs) statistics of c800 millions animals, cattle, goats, sheep and pigs and poultry, passing annually through slaughterhouses in England, Scotland and Wales. In addition we must add in an estimate for Northern Ireland for which we do not have a figure, plus animals dead on arrival at slaughterhouses, the death by gassing of unwanted male chicks, poultry dying from overcrowding and disease, death from BSE, Foot and Mouth, and swine fever and farmed fish.


About 43 million acres of land is used for farming in the UK. About one third is rough grazing (mainly moor land) a further third is permanent pasture. Rather more than another third (38%) is classed as arable. Of this more that 60% is used to feed animals. Of the 43million acres, and with a cattle stocking rate of one per acre, this leaves 29 million acres to graze 200 million cattle so they can qualify as organic. This is not possible.


The only clear and unequivocal ethical position is that of vegans who have ruled out the rearing of farm animals altogether. Because there are only a small number of vegan-organic farms (stockfree) vegans find themselves in a compromised position. Their response has been the formation in 1996 of the Vegan Organic Network and and in 2004, the Stockfree Organic Standards (SOS). The SOS brings to the attention of farmers that they have a choice in growing methods. They can now farm without herbicides, pesticide and artificial fertilisers, but also without animal manure and slaughterhouse by-products.


To date our Directory can list 20 stockfree organic commercial growers in the UK, and a further 20 overseas, mainly in N. America.   Even from this modest start they are feeding over 1500 people every week. This demonstrates that food can be grown in accordance with the values of non-violence.  Those bodies urging organic meat production are pressing for the unsustainable as well as the unethical. There simply is not enough land to rear animals organically. It is even more disastrous and irresponsible to argue for more land to be used so that animals can be kept non-intensively and fed organically. And a further choice – do we feed animals, people or the combustion engine? Vegans know where they stand!


Human development is a progression in which we all have a part to play. It has been argued that one line of progress we should now work towards is that from conventional chemical agriculture, to organic agriculture to vegan-organic agriculture. Such a shift requires a fundamental change in culture. For the vegan organic method of growing food is revolutionary as well as evolutionary in as much as it encompasses a way of living that is based on non-violence and non-exploitation.


VON believes that we can act as a catalyst to bring about agricultural, cultural and social change. We can only achieve these aims with your help, and of those groups and organisations with similar aims.  Join us – work with us! Much emphasis is now put upon a vegan diet as being healthy. VON considers that vegans are healthy not only because of their refusal to eat animals, but because this refusal is based upon an active philosophy that considers human and non-human life to be worthy of respect and the right to live in peace and security.  Help us to move towards a world where animals are not sacrificed for human greed and ignorance, and where people themselves can understand that they need not be brutalised by this senseless slaughter.


Briefly – starting from scratch

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The vegan-organic garden ideally has a diversity of plants, birds, small animals, insects, fungi, bacteria and other micro-organisms…

The vegan-organic garden ideally has a diversity of plants, birds, small animals, insects, fungi, bacteria and other micro-organisms. These are interdependent and necessary for the production of wholesome food. The quality of food produced by this method compared to mono-cropping systems whose soil structure is destroyed by continual cultivation, chemical fertilisers and toxic pesticides, is superior in vitality and taste due to the variety and activity of the ecosystem.

Include many levels of plants when preparing land for cultivation, from ground cover to fruit trees. Patches of nettles and comfrey will provide cover for insects to lay eggs, the leaves can be used for liquid feed. Consider the physical characteristics – aspect, gradient, hours of sunshine, shade, shelter and exposure. Shelter belts using small trees or shrubs will attract insects and birds.

Make a soil analysis and grow plants suitable for the soil type. Install drainage and irrigation systems if necessary. Use terracing and raised beds, allow areas for perennial crops and composting. Make a pond and bog garden to attract frogs, and a pile of decaying logs and leaves for hedgehogs. Both will provide natural slug control. Use trellises and fencing for climbing plants. Scatter seeds of wild flowers. Plant clumps of herbs, medicinal or culinary, and herbaceous perennials. These will attract beneficial insects such as hover flies and pollinating bees.

Cut down existing foliage If using a no dig method cover the ground with a bio-degradable barrier. Digging relieves compacting. Examine every forkful to remove all perennial roots which will otherwise regrow. Become familiar with weeds and their method of reproduction. A continuous cover of mulch helps to retain moisture, prevents weed growth and provides a steady supply of organic matter. Liquid feeds can be made and applied when necessary during the growing season.

Use traditional varieties of seeds which have proven disease and pest resistance. Sowing and planting can be done according to calendar season or lunar cycles. Use rotation systems, including green manures as part of cropping cycles. Plants can be grown from seed in cells, and transplanted. Potatoes can be dibbed into the ground and covered with mulch. Onions are planted and lightly covered, sow small seeds in rows scraping the mulch aside. Protect from birds, insects and adverse weather by fleeces, clothes and netting.

The Root Dwellers

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Jörg Zimmerman has translated this article from Regenwurm – the Austrian vegan organic magazine.

Plants need nitrogen, which constitutes 78% of the air. Among living organisms only bacteria are able to absorb nitrogen from the air and convert it into organic molecules. So what could be better for plants than to enter into symbiosis with the bacteria?

Nitrogen (N2) is a very stable molecule. Industrially it can be split only with high energy expenditure. At 500°C. and 200 bar N2 can be converted into nitrogenous fertilisers. This is one of the main ways in which conventional agriculture contributes to global warming and climate change. Plants have a more elegant way of getting the nitrogen they need – by co-operation with nitrogen-fixing micro-organisms. Legumes (beans, clover etc.) have gone down this road very successfully by living symbiotically with bacteria called rhizobia.

Rhizobia live everywhere in the soil and gather around the root hairs of the plants, attracted by excretions from the plant roots. The plant and the bacteria first sniff at each other to see if they have found the right partner, because each legume needs its appropriate kind of rhizobia. Once they have found each other, the bacteria infect the root hairs, establishing themselves in the cortex (bark) of the root, where they induce an abnormal rate of cell division. The result is root nodules, which can contain millions of rhizobia.

To split the N2 molecule, rhizobia use an enzyme called nitrogenase, which is highly sensitive to (that is, easily destroyed by) oxygen. So no fixation of nitrogen happens as long as the rhizobia live freely in the soil, where oxygen is abundant. It can only happen inside the root nodules, the skin of which restricts the entry of oxygen. But, being aerobic bacteria, rhizobia need oxygen to live. To obtain this oxygen supply in the oxygen-poor environment of the nodule, the bacteria produce leg-haemoglobin, a substance which causes the red colour inside the nodules. Like human haemoglobin it can absorb oxygen and transport it to wherever it is needed. So it transports oxygen from the exterior to the bacteria inside the nodules.

In exchange for nitrogen the plant supplies the rhizobia with carbohydrates (about 15% of the plant’s total photosynthetic yield), with energy and with the necessary trace elements. The average fixation rate of soya is 100 kg. of nitrogen per hectare per year, of lupins 150 kg. and of lucerne 250 kg. But these amounts are influenced by several factors. High concentration of nitrate in the soil inhibits the growth of the nodules and hence reduces nitrogen fixation.

Some elements are important for nitrogenase activity, especially phosphorus, molybdenum and iron. A neutral pH and good water and temperature conditions are also necessary to achieve the best fixation rate. Last but not least, there has to be a sufficient availability of rhizobia in the soil. If a legume species has not been grown in a particular place for several decades or it is not native to the area (e.g. soya), the seeds should be inoculated with the appropriate bacteria.

It is generally considered that 25% of forage legumes in an organic crop rotation should supply the system with sufficient nitrogen. The question for vegan organic growers is how these forage legumes can be put to economic use or can be replaced by marketable seed legumes. It is important to note that the latter, depending on variety and species, could cause a negative nitrogen balance, because of the export of the legume seeds from the land. A plant with a particularly positive nitrogen balance is the edible lupin, which has the additional advantage that its seeds have a protein composition that is well balanced for human needs. In any case clover and lucerne should not be missing from crop rotations, due to their multiple positive effects. In comparison with mixed farms vegan farms only require half the area of clover/lucerne, because with stock rearing only 50% of the fodder nitrogen comes back to the field in the manure. According to circumstances the cut legumes can be used as mulch or they can be composted and the compost brought back onto the field when needed.

EDITOR’s note: while farmers can inoculate their legume crops with rhizobia for increased yields, small growers can use similar tricks. An advantage of growing your French and runner beans in the same place for several successive years is that the right rhizobia build up in the soil and keep increasing fertility; this might be out of step with the principle of crop rotation but it usually works without problems. When using rotations, you can inoculate the ground you intend to plant, just take a small amount of soil from ground where legumes have been growing and spread it where you intend to plant your next crop of the same variety.

This article appeared in Growing Green International magazine Num 9 (Summer 2002), p30.

We live and learn

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Dave of Darlington

You are never too old to learn, they say. Thank goodness for that! Fortunately we are continually getting new insights and challenges, which sometimes make us realise that what we always believed in is wrong. For example, for many years I was committed to the idea that only annual plants could yield enough to be suitable for use as agricultural crops. Even as recently as 1998 I was writing that, from the point of view of feeding the world’s human population, annual crops were better than perennials.1 Now I must eat my words and own up to having been mistaken. I am now convinced that annual crop production is unsustainable, even when done organically, and that we must look to perennial plants for our nourishment in the years to come.


Growing Roses without Farm Yard Manure.

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By Ita West.

I read once that there are “Angels of Nature” and I think that they try to play small tricks on me when the mood takes them. There we were, just coping with growing vegetables and fruit without animal manure and letting the flowerbeds survive the best they could, when a friend dropped me in seven floribunda roses, which she’d had to move for an extension to her house. Roses to me are synonymous with horse manure. When I was growing up in the Dublin suburbs neighbours would almost come to fisticuffs as to who would be able to collect the horse manure on the road. When a rider went by, they all rushed out with their shovels/spades, whatever was handy. In those days a fair amount of the “travelling community” used horse drawn vehicles so if you looked you could usually find some… but we’d committed ourselves to not using animal manure so what were we going to grow these roses in?


Reap what you sow

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An update from Le Guerrat in the French Pyrenees.

By Sue Morris

Hmmmm, let me see: tomatoes on toast, fried in garlic and olive oil? Baby courgettes on pasta with freshly-cracked black pepper? Aubergine lasagne with steamed potatoes? Mixed lettuce leaves with walnuts and an avocado? Grated raw beetroot salad………yes, it’s that time of year again when the harvest comes in! The work for the year starts in earnest in March, sowing, replanting, potting-on, watering, nurturing, protecting, etc…..then comes the nerve-wracking, nail-biting, sitting-on-the-edge-of-your-seat-whilst-craning-your-neck-out-of-the-window four-month wait before the harvest comes in. Then when it does, it’s a deluge: more courgettes than I can handle, cherry tomatoes up to your knees, bunches of blackcurrants that nearly snap the bush, beans growing whilst you look at them, pumpkins climbing up and over anything that stands still long enough….


Lively Lupins

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Peter White describes this hard working green manure crop.

Agricultural lupins are a multi purpose annual plant of the pea family related to the ornamental flowers. Lupins (often spelt lupine in the USA) are probably of Egyptian or East Mediterranean origin, and have been cultivated since the days of the ancient Egyptians.


What is Efficient Agriculture?

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The use of land, labour and energy.
by Dave, Darlington

Nearly 50% of the world labour force is employed in agriculture. Distribution in the late 1980’s ranged from 64% of the economically active in Africa to less than 4% in America and Canada. In Asia the figure was 61%; South America, 24%; Eastern Europe and Russia 15%; Western Europe 7%. Understanding Efficiency


A Vegan Agricultural Policy?

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By O. Lavrador

The Vested Interests Lobby
The idea of a vegan agricultural policy begs the question why have an agricultural policy at all. Why not open agriculture up to market forces? That would certainly be the logical conclusion of the trend in government policy over the last twenty years. But nobody, not even the most blinkered champion of the free market ideology, has so far dared to remove all elements of control and protection from the farming industry. This is not only because of the powerful political lobby of farmers and country landowners defending their economic interests. There is also a very substantial lobby of people whose interest is sentimental rather than economic – mostly environmentalists and nature lovers. These people believe that the continuance of farming roughly in its traditional form is vital to the preservation of the countryside and that farmers need support to achieve this end.


Financial Futures

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By Dave, Darlington, Co Durham

Millennia ago there was a very clever financier called George Solos. He devised a system of playing the financial markets in such a way that he could convert the universal currency called solar energy into the local energy currency on earth. This had never been done before. He called his system ‘photosynthesis’. The rate of exchange that he got was poor, but Solos reckoned that, if he could do the transactions on a big enough scale, he would make a lot of money.


How I became a Grower

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By Cathy Bryant with some assistance from Mark Twain
‘Turnips should never be pulled; it injures them. It is much better to send a boy up and let him shake the
So goes the advice of the narrator in Mark Twain’s hilarious story, ‘How I Edited an Agricultural Paper’, wherein a journalist is surprised to find that he is expected to have some knowledge of the subject on which he writes. I feel a bit like that. Having been a member of VON for a while now and believing firmly in its principles, I had until recently never grown a thing since the cress-on-cotton-wool at school when I was seven.

Walk and Garden Party 22nd July 2012!

Vegan Organic Network Fund Raising Events 2012.

22nd July, Sponsored Fun Walk, Manchester: Join in the walk and raise funds for Vegan Organic Network and Animal Aid.

Then afterwards on the 22nd July, Vegan Organic Network Garden Party, Manchester: Live music, food, cakes, circus and stalls.

Sponsored Fun Walk 22nd July 2012.

In Aid Of:


Vegan Organic Network and Animal Aid


Walk Starts 11am Finishes 2pm

58, High Lane, Chorlton, Manchester.

Enjoy the sights round Chorlton Water Park and the River Mersey

The walk will end at the


Garden Party

22nd July 2012, 58 High Lane, 1pm-5.30pm

Live Music, Hot Food, Cakes, Circus, Stalls

And a Stockfree Organic Demonstration Plot


Vegan Organic Network Charity No: 1080847

Campaigning for greater awareness in how our food is produced;

Saving animals lives

Creating wildlife habitats

Supporting Stockfree farmers and growers

Bursaries to study Stockfree Organic Farming

Animal Aid Charity No:

Campaign peacefully against all forms of animal abuse

Investigate and expose animal cruelty

Provide evidence often used by the media, bringing issues to the public’s attention

Free teaching resources to schools across the country

Train school speakers, who talk in more than 300 schools each year.



For sponsorship forms and information

Contact: membership@veganorganic.net


Growing in partial shade

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By John Curtis and Ziggy Woodward

If you want to grow fruit and veg in deep shade, you might be out of luck (or try mushrooms?) In partial shade – perhaps there’s a few hours of sunshine on the spot for most days in the Summer – your options are improving.


Beating the Blight

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By Iain Tolhurst

So many members have reported problems with potato blight (phytophera infestans). In GGI number Ten we gave some basic advice for home cultivation. Here Iain expands on this with guidance for home cultivation and field scale growers.


Carrots without Tears

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By Sally Ford
From Growing Green International 11.
Unfortunately, growing carrots without tears is not easy. Certain vital measures have to be taken to ensure success, but, with a modicum of effort, beautiful umbelliferae can be yours! So, why not put your hanky away and make this the year when veganorganic carrots rule supreme.


Recent Fairs

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We have met some great people recently at both vegan and non vegan fairs. Thank you to all our new members, whether we met you out and about or if you came across VON in some other way. We need and thank you for your support.

Grow Your Own Fruit & Veg

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News: Grow Your Own Fruit & Veg

The Vegan-Organic Network (VON) has just released Grow Your Own Fruit & Veg, an inspiring DVD which demonstrates how you can feed yourself and your family from your allotment or garden using stockfree organic techniques.

Stockfree organic differs from conventional organic in that, as well as avoiding synthetic chemicals and artificial fertilisers, growers also avoid animal inputs such as manure  or fish meal, and slaughterhouse products such as dried blood and bone meal.  The method relies instead on green manures, mulches, undersowing and crop rotation to maintain optimum soil health and fertility and to enhance local biodiversity.

Presenter Graham Cole is head gardener at Holywell House in Hampshire and has twenty years’ experience growing crops stockfree organically and sustainably, producing delicious vegetables and fruit which are genuinely clean, green and cruelty-free.

The DVD is a handy reference tool for the basics of stockfree organic gardening. It is divided into chapters so that you can easily locate sections of particular interest. Topics covered include:

– Problems with conventional growing

– The benefits of stockfree organic growing

– How to produce fertility

– Rotation of crops

– The importance of biodiversity

– Weed control

– Growing under glass

– Basic tools

You can buy a copy from our online shop.

Organic Box Scheme Pioneer’s Writings Published

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The latest publication from the Vegan Organic Network (VON) is a collection of the writings of Dave of Darlington, the thinking man’s farmer.

Dave was one of the pioneers of organic vegetable box deliveries from his market garden and workers’ cooperative Organic Growers of Durham

His writings were published in VON’s magazine Growing Green International over a period of many years and always attracted a huge amount of interest, due to their diversity, their erudition and, perhaps most of all, to the inherent humanity of their writer. Dave’s enthusiasm for sustainable farming shines through, whether he’s talking in technical terms about green manures, chipped branch wood, rotations or soil science or whether he is tackling the global, ethical and environmental issues too often ignored by most commentators on agriculture.

Readers of this fascinating collection of essays and letters will be able to trace the evolution of Dave’s market garden project from small beginnings in the early 1990s to a 150-strong customer base, at which point new members were only accepted for the waiting list if they lived within 5 miles of the market garden.

As well as running a successful veg box scheme, the cooperative carried out invaluable research in the vegan-organic sphere. Dave developed a zero tillage system using mulching and a separate permaculture hayfield with a blend of lucerne and tall fescue.

The book is a treasury of useful information for gardeners and farmers, gleaned from Dave’s long experience and enhanced by well-informed thoughts on the ethics and politics behind farming. Dave died in 2008 but it’s a fitting memorial to him that anyone who reads his work immediately finds themselves echoing a sentiment expressed by Ben Raskin of The Soil Association: “I’m sorry I never met him.”

Take a deep breath! Garlic without Tears

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By Sally Ford.
From Growing Green International 10.

New to gardening? Not sure where to begin? Here’s the first in an occasional series focusing on individual vegetables, telling you all you need to know about their small-scale cultivation and a few things you don’t need to know, but might find interesting.


Growing Wild

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With Nick Fox.
From Growing Green International 10.

Oak trees support a large community of native species, and planting them is a great contribution to maintaining our natural biodiversity. Don’t worry if space is limited, even the smallest of gardens could have at least one tree and an oak tree is as good a choice as any and better than most. A tree in the garden sends out the clear signal to any passing bird, bat and insect that a warm welcome awaits them with opportunities of food and shelter. The almost indestructible nature of most of our native trees and shrubs means they can be cut back and managed to suit any situation.


More on no-dig potato growing

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By Dave of Darlington (with apologies to the H.D.R.A.)

The very dry summer of 2006 had an adverse effect on many vegetable crops, especially potatoes, which need a constant level of moisture in the soil to grow well. A dry soil not only checks the growth of the plants, retarding tuber development, but also increases the incidence of common scab, a fungal disease that normally only affects the skin of the tubers but which, in dry soil, can penetrate deeper into them and seriously impair their quality.


Our Third Year.

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The third year on our allotment by Roger Roberts

Once again, we have had another successful last year on our 250-square-metre allotment here in central Cambridge. Although nowhere near self-sufficient – in fact I question whether such a situation is ever possible in our modern, interdependent world – we have nonetheless produced a sizeable quantity of delicious fruits and vegetables this year, supplemented by visits to our local wholefood shop and to the better class (if there is such a thing) of supermarket. My New Year Resolution was to avoid our local Tesco entirely and to escape its aisles of overfed, and yet undernourished, customers. The slogan ‘Every Little Helps’ reminds me that every single fruit and vegetable we grow ourselves helps to put an end to this type of unsustainable food production.


Growing Green Growing Strong

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Growing Green International’s Summer 2011 edition is packed with news from around the world of stockfree organic growing.

Stockfree organic differs from conventional organic in that, as well as avoiding synthetic chemicals and artificial fertilisers, growers also avoid animal inputs, relying instead on green manures, mulches, undersowing and crop rotation to maintain soil health and fertility.

The magazine demonstrates the success of these techniques and includes reports from UK growers and gardeners in Cambridge, Cheshire, Lancashire, Southampton and Yorkshire and as far afield as Kerala (India), the French Pyrenees and Ontario and Quebec in Canada.

There’s also news of a proposal to set up a Participatory Farmer to Farmer Low-cost Inspection Scheme. The plan is to set up a pilot in North-west England and North Wales which will operate through a link between Stockfree Organic Services and Climate Friendly Food, enabling more small-scale growers to afford reliable certification for their stockfree organic produce.

With articles on subjects as diverse as Human Diet Choice & Climate Change, Animals as Biotechnology No-Dig, No-Till Methods and Balcony Composting, there’s something to interest a wide variety of readers.

Click here for more information on Growing Green International magazine. If you join VON, it will be posted to you twice a year.

To find out more about growing in different countries, climates and soil types, in protected and open environments on both field and market garden scales, take a look at the stockfree organic website. A panel of growers is available to offer help and advice.

“Growing Green – Organic Techniques for a Sustainable Future”, the remarkable handbook of stockfree organics written by Jenny Hall and Iain Tolhurst is now in its second edition and is available through the VON’s shop

Composting Galore

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By Jenny Hall.

Composting is a natural biochemical process of decomposition. It is possible for every vegan-organic grower to produce the darkest, nutrient-rich, earth smelling compost. Adding well-made compost to the soil will ensure a healthy soil and healthier crops. The compost feeds the soil life, helps the soil retain nutrients, increases earthworm populations, suppresses disease and inoculates the soil, produces beneficial hormones for plant growth, improves drainage and provides air pockets for the crop roots to grow in.