What is veganic?

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‘Veganic’ is a combination of two words ‘vegan’ and ‘organic’. It’s a guarantee that food is grown in an organic way with only plant based fertilizers, encouraging functional biodiversity so pesticides are not necessary. No chemicals, no GMO and no animal by products in any part of the chain.

Veganic food is resilient to the largest problems facing humanity i.e. environmental destruction, pollution of the sea and air and soil erosion.

Veganic otherwise we are dependant on animal agriculture, chemicals, pesticides and herbicides.

In essence, veganic is a logical step beyond organic for those who seek safe food grown in a sustainable manner.

Vegan Organic Network

An educational charity established 1996.

The Vegan Organic Network is the only organisation in the UK solely working for food to be grown the veganic way.

Our mission is to be a world-wide movement of veganic farmers, growers, producers, consumers and supporters, which will raise awareness, influence policy and educate people about the principles and benefits of veganic agriculture.

Our commitment is to peace and justice for humans, other animals and the environment in a sustainable balance. To achieve this, we must change our lifestyles and introduce a philosophy which will continue to maintain our unique planet. We are motivated by our awareness of the great unease in society that we are moving towards a world that can no longer sustain life in the natural way it has always evolved.

1.1    Our aims

  • To educate the public about how their food is grown.
  • To network with growers locally and around the world.
  • To specify the methods and standards for veganic growing and to enable growers to become certified using these standards.
  • To support veganic demonstration, education and research centres.
  • To encourage veganic cultivation on a small scale as well as commercial growing.
  • To support farmers who want to convert to veganic growing and individuals who want who want to learn how to grow veganically.
  • To campaign for a veganic standard label on produce.

Registered charity no. 1080847  

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.

 

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.