Rich Hardy From Undercover Journalist to Vegan Farmer

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Visit to Rich Hardy in Cornwall where he shows us how he’s turned half an acre of land into a small scale 100% veganic veg box scheme

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Rich Hardy, Lazy Meadow Farm

From Undercover Journalist to Vegan Farmer

For two decades I lived a double-life.

And with the help of a hidden camera, some water-tight cover stories and a little luck I traversed the globe working undercover to document the damage factory farming was doing to the planet and the billions of suffering animals used to feed and clothe us. My images and testimony helped shape some pioneering legislation and were used by global animal charities to generate hard-hitting media exposés. But while it helped create change and promoted vegan lifestyles, it came at a bit of a personal cost.

Burnt out and in need of a change I turned to growing. Partly to help heal my soul a little after what I had witnessed but also as a challenge to the cruel factory farming model that growing food needn’t involve animal suffering or be so destructive. So, with my partner Pru, and taking an activist-inspired approach, we’ve set up a vegan farm in Cornwall that is half-way through its first season. Using veganic techniques and operating under a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model we harvest weekly and deliver veg boxes in and around Falmouth, Redruth and Truro.

Cherry and Dan from VON went to visit Rich on his land this summer to see how he was getting on in his first year as a veganic farmer.

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What is Veganic Permaculture? Interview w/ Tony Martin

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Since our recent trip to Farm Dirt in Houston we started learning about sustainable, nutrient rich compost which is free from all animal byproducts that are in conventional and organic compost. This led us to veganic farming and permaculture. But what in the hell is veganic farming and permaculture?

“Veganic growing is but one aspect of a dynamic culture. Our commitment is to peace and justice for people, 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.” -Tony Martin

Tony Martin has always been interested in gardening since sampling real food grown in his grandparents garden when he was a kid. After growing food for 13 years in a 5th of an acre garden in Derbyshire UK he decided he needed a bigger play space and 15 years ago brought 5.5 acres of Welsh hillside where he planted over 12,500 trees and hundreds of fruit bushes. He has recently taken over as editor of the Vegan Organic Network’s magazine Growing Green International (GGI).

The Vegan Organic Network 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.

Growing Fresh Produce Under the Sea: A Most Surreal Experience

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By Colleen McDuling – Science Correspondent to the Vegan Organic Network

It sounds like something out of a science fiction novel or film, but there really is an undersea farm. Situated 40 meters off the coast of an Italian town called Noli in the Italian Riviera, and at a depth of around eight meters below the surface of the sea, Nemo’s Garden is the brainchild of an Italian father and son duo.

Back in 2012, Sergio Gamberini, a passionate diver and an equally passionate gardener,  was walking along the shore with some friends. Gazing out over the ocean, he pondered, “Would it be possible to grow basil under the sea?” And the idea was born. After much experimentation, a pilot undersea garden was set up. By 2018, Gamberini and his son, Luca, and their team were successfully growing a multitude of fresh produce: Basil, Thyme, Sage, Mint, Oregano, Rosemary, Liquorice, Black Cumin, Marjoram, Tomatoes, Strawberries, Lavender, Calendula, Stevia, Aloe Vera, Lettuces and Radishes.

However, in 2018, the fiercest storm ever recorded in the history of the Mediterranean struck. It was a disaster. Nemo’s Garden was almost destroyed. In 2019, the undersea garden was rebuilt. But then came the pandemic where the team was not even allowed to travel to the site. The team never gave up and Nemo’s Garden is now a thriving undersea venture where plants grow prolifically and healthfully.

But how are they doing this? And what is the science behind it all?

It’s quite simple, really. Below the surface of the sea are six transparent domes called biospheres. One might expect that they would be filled with sea water, but that is not the case. Only the lower part is filled with sea water, the remaining portion of each biosphere is filled with air! These biospheres are anchored to the sea bed by strong chains, screws and other reinforcing devices.

In the middle of the six biospheres is the “Tree of Life”, an apparatus that holds the monitoring cables which are connected to each biosphere and which feed data to the control tower on the shore. Each biosphere is monitored 24/7 for humidity, air temperature, carbon dioxide, oxygen, pressure, sea temperature and light. Webcams are available so that the interior of each biosphere may be monitored and there is a webcam on the ocean floor to monitor the external aquatic environment. There are intercoms for the diving gardeners to communicate with one another as well as the control tower on the shore.

The rationale for this uniquely novel way of growing plants is that since these plants are grown in a controlled environment, there is no need for any type of agrochemical. Plants, being delicate, need constant temperatures, water, light and protection from harm. Unfortunately, in conventional terrestrial farming practices, this is not always possible. In these biospheres, all of these factors are carefully controlled. The sea provides a constant temperature, a lot of water, the right pressure, the right humidity in the biospheres and the right level of light filtering in from above. But what of the salt? Well, evaporation of the sea water occurs, condensation (minus the salt) forms on the inside of the domes, and this is how the plants get their water. There are no insects, terrestrial snails and slugs, small mammals or anyone else usually found on land, living in the sea. And so the plants are free from predation. Although, a few crabs and one or two octopi, have been known to visit the plants out of sheer curiosity. Finding them not to their liking, they have graciously exited the domes.

Most of the plants are grown hydroponically, and thus, by definition, are not strictly veganic. But this method of growing fresh produce fits in perfectly with the ethos of veganic farming. No harm is done to the environment, no agrochemicals are used, no manures are used and most certainly no artificial, chemical fertilizers which contain animal products are used. Those who have tasted the fresh produce say that their flavour far exceeds that of conventionally grown crops. Indeed, the team have used their basil and other ingredients to make a delicious Italian pesto!

Sergio and Luca Gamberini are hoping to make this way of growing plants scalable. After all, the conditions on Earth are deteriorating. And some areas of the Earth are simply not suitable for growing fresh produce in any significant amount. Thus far, this appears to be a sustainable way of growing much-needed and nutritious food for Earth’s burgeoning population. And it is all solar powered!

For those of you who are interested, please go to Nemo’s Garden on the internet. There you will see their website and many reports of this. There are videos on YouTube, Vimeo and other similar platforms describing this novel and revolutionary way of growing our food. You might even see seahorses gliding up the anchoring chains. And there is a livestream on their site which is also accessible on YouTube. But be warned, watching the livestream is mesmerizing and you might not get anything done for the rest of the day. Seeing fish swim around whilst these plants are growing is indeed surreal. And if you are lucky, you might see the divers enter the biospheres to do their gardening – without their scuba breathing apparatus which they take off once they are in air.

Yes, it is surreal. But who knows? This could be the future of growing at least some of our much-needed vegan food. Only time will tell. We wish the Gamberini duo and their team the very best in this sustainable and novel horticulture endeavour.   

Save our Wildlife Video Competition for Schools

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The future is uncertain for us all, how we act now will determine the planet our children inherit.

COP26 the UN Climate Change Conference being held in Glasgow this November, will make decisions that will effect us all, that is why we think it is important for children and adults to have a voice.

Have you ever wondered what the ratios between wildlife and livestock were? Well, in 2018, three scientists did and they carried out some research to find out the answer.

4% of all mammals are wildlife

36% of all mammals are human

60% of all mammals are farm animals

We want schools and children to take part in our Save our Wildlife short video competition, and help send the message to delegates attending COP26 the UN Climate Change Conference:

To Save our Wildlife we must move to a Plant Based Food System

Schools taking part will receive a Save our Wildlife educational pack, a BOB box and a Willow Wand. The winning school entry will receive a day with willow artist and environmentalist Cherry Chung.

Schools taking part can submit up to five videos, children and teachers are also welcome to enter our main competition.

Be as creative as you like, videos must be 60 seconds or under. We have created some scripts which you can use for inspiration.

Our film competition aims to spread the message that:

To Save our Wildlife we must move to a Plant Based Food System.

Of all mammals on Earth, ONLY 4% are WILDLIFE, 60% are farm animals and 36% are humans.

By adopting a plant-based food system, land used by farm animals can be converted to wildlife habitats.

  • 80 percent of the world’s agricultural land is used for farming animals (livestock farming).
  • When we remove the farm animals from our food chain, corn and soya fields required for animal feed can be transformed into nature reserves.
  • World agriculture must move towards “people nourished per hectare”.
  • Veganic agriculture is green, clean and cruelty free, it uses less land, water and fossil fuel resources than farm animal (livestock) dependent systems and creates a wildlife friendly environment where nature can thrive.

Read: Saving Earth Wildlife through Radical Change

Make a short film and help spread this urgent message to your friends, family, community and to politicians around the world.

How to enter Save our Wildlife Video Competition:

  1. Make a short video 60 seconds or under, which communicates that: To Save our Wildlife we must move to a Plant Based Food System.
  2. Your video can be reportage, documentary, narrative (scripted) as well as an animation or a song or dance. There are no limits to your creativity, you can even submit multiple entries to the competition, spread your wings!
  3. Top entries will be posted on our website and social media channels so the public can support their favourite idea. This will be taken into account when the judges choose the winners.
  4. Closing date midnight 6th November 2021.
  5. Read article below: Saving Earths Wildlife Through Radical Change.
  6. Watch Time is Running Out
  7. Be creative, share your video, get the message out and be the difference.
  8. Winners to be announced in Vegan Organic Network Newsletter October 2021 .
  9. Competition open to all ages and nationalities.

How to enter competition:

Email a copy of your video to events@veganorganic.net.

Post and share your video on all your social media platforms.

  • Facebook: Like and follow Vegan Organic Network Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/VeganOrganicNetwork)
  • Instagram: Follow Vegan Organic Network Instagram (@veganorganic.net), upload video to your Instagram account and tag #veganorganicuk and other tags about wildlife, sustainable living, farming and being vegan. Set your account to public, so we can see your video!
  • Youtube: Upload your video send link to events@veganorganic.net and share on your email and social media platforms.

Tag your friends and tell them to enter too!

For further information contact: events@veganorganic.net


Saving Earth’s Wildlife Through a Radical Change

Have you ever wondered what the ratios between wildlife and livestock were? Well, in 2018, three scientists did and they carried out some research to find out the answer. Yinon Bar-On, Rob Phillips, and Ron Milo from Israel and California estimated the biomass of all living things on the Earth. Now, biomass is the weight or mass of a living being. It was the first study of its kind and it gave some rather interesting and alarming results. Their research was published in a journal called The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS). The research was so significant that it was summarized in The Guardian.

Of all life forms on Earth, comprising animals, plants, bacteria, fungi and viruses, they found that plants made up for 82% of all life on Earth. Bacteria came in second with only 13%. The remaining fraction of 5% comprised everything else including all animals fungi and viruses.

But what made this study so disturbing was the fact that of the mammals, 60% were livestock , 36% were humans, whilst only a mere 4% were wildlife. This is a huge disproportion between livestock and wildlife. These researchers revealed that of the birds, a staggering 70% were being raised as farm animals for food whilst only 30% were wild birds living freely outdoors.

Image: Guardian Graphic; https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/21/human-race-just-001-of-all-life-but-has-destroyed-over-80-of-wild-mammals-study
Image: Guardian Graphic; https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/21/human-race-just-001-of-all-life-but-has-destroyed-over-80-of-wild-mammals-study

The research also revealed that of all living things on Earth, humans made up for only 0.01%. And yet, since humans appeared on the Earth a few million years ago, they have been responsible for the extinction of a whopping 83% of all wildlife. This is a huge figure. The WWF estimates that 10,000 species go extinct every year. This figure represents both plants and animals, but it is still a massive number.

So, what exactly is driving all of this? Why are so many species becoming extinct? The answer, quite simply, is our lifestyles and the way we grow our food.

Vegans have been blamed for deforestation of vast swathes of land to grow soya. But the actual truth, according to Greenpeace, is that 80% of all soya grown is fed to farmed animals, most of whom are in factory farms. Only about 6% of all soya ends up on our plates. Deforestation leads to animals losing their natural homes, their food sources and their protection. Invariably, this will lead to many, many species dying out. There is nothing to sustain them. Deforestation is carried out not only to grow soya (and also corn which is fed to livestock), but also for mining, logging, urban development and building of roads and railways.

It’s estimated that around 80 Billion land-based animals are killed to feed a burgeoning human population every year. And, until their untimely death, they need feeding! So, you can imagine how much land is used to grow food for them! This land that could be used to grow healthy plant-based food to feed humans. In some countries of the world, global poverty and hunger is rife.

A plant-based diet is highly recommended; it uses up a lot less land to grow enough food for human consumption. Wildlife is thus supported and the threat of extinction of species is greatly reduced.

It’s not only our dietary preferences that need addressing; it’s also agricultural systems as a whole. Growing crops responsibly and veganically supports the emergence of a myriad of both plant and animal species in the surrounding areas. Veganic growing does not use any animal-based fertilizers, any animal manures or any agrochemicals at all. Ecosystems are healthy and biodiversity is given the chance to thrive.

It has generally been accepted that the Earth is experiencing the Sixth Mass Extinction Event. Global ecosystems have become unstable and wildlife is disappearing at an exponential rate. In order to prevent any further biodiversity and wildlife loss, organizations such as the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) are strongly advocating a move to a plant-based diet, rewilding of Nature and eco-friendly agricultural systems.

The evidence is there. There needs to be a radical change in mindset. Humans need to go vegan and we need to reform our agricultural systems. And the sooner this is done, the more chance we have in preventing any further wildlife loss.

References:

Bar-On, Yinon M., Phillips, Rob and Milo, Ron; 2018; The biomass distribution on Earth; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences; 115 (25); 6506-6511; https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1711842115

 Humans just 0.01% of all life but have destroyed 83% of wild mammals – study; The Guardianhttps://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/21/human-race-just-001-of-all-life-but-has-destroyed-over-80-of-wild-mammals-study

Deforestation and food: your questions answered; WWF; https://www.wwf.org.uk/food/deforestation-and-food-your-questions-answered

Are vegans and vegetarians destroying the planet?; Greenpeace Video; https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/news/soya-meat-vegetarian-vegan/

Food System Impacts on Biodiversity Loss: Three levers for food system transformation in support of nature; Chatham House Report, February 03, 2021; ISBN: 978 1 78413 433 4; https://www.chathamhouse.org/2021/02/food-system-impacts-biodiversity-loss


Veganic Gardeners Question Time 29th April 2021

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Veganic Gardeners’ Question Time

TV presenter Luke Scott III will host an entertaining evening with some twenty-four carrot advice from Stephane Groleau of the Veganic Agriculture Network, online veganic growing teacher Meghan Kelly and vegan gardener Piers Warren.

Watch live on Facebook or Youtube

Thursday 29th April 7pm UK Time Zone 45 minutes.

Please send your gardening and farming questions questions to: events@veganorganic.net

The panel:

Luke Scott III: Award-Winning International Speaker, the TV Show Host, the Spiritual Mentor and most recently Luke the Husband. Best-Selling Author of Find Your Truth: Your Guide to Living a Connected Life Filled With Purpose. Luke is setting up a vegan eco village. http://www.lukescottofficial.com/luke-scott-iii/

Meghan Kelly:I learned veganic permaculture to become more self-sufficient while sticking to my vegan values. I constantly experiment with a hands-on DIY approach. I’ve practiced veganics for 10+ years in community gardens, concrete jungles and up in the hills. I run the Learn Veganic online course  https://learnveganic.com/ and co-founded the Veganic Agriculture Network https://www.goveganic.net/.

Stephane Groleau: I love innovating and finding new ways to veganize anything and everything. I studied organic vegetable farming and visited veganic farms across Europe. I’m equally comfortable optimizing a tiny balcony or planting berry bushes in the countryside. I co-founded the Veganic Agriculture Network in 2008 https://www.goveganic.net/ and I teach gardening online at Learn Veganic https://learnveganic.com/.

Piers Warren: Conservationist, author and keen grower of organic fruit and vegetables. He is the founder of Wildeye – The International School of Wildlife Film-making. Writer of several books and co-author of The Vegan Cook and Gardener.
More about Piers https://www.pierswarren.co.uk/

The Vegan Cook & Gardener https://veganorganic.net/product/vegan-cook-and-gardener/

Veganic Gardeners’ Question Time hopes to inspire and bring new ideas to foragers, growers and gardeners alike.

Now more than ever it is vital that we engage with how our food is grown.

Tune into our show and become part of the growing revolution which can not only transform your garden plot but also change the way the world grows its food.

A Vegan Organic Network production.