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

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.


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:

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

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

Rob Jackson, Editor