Vegan Organic Fest 2021

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Vegan Organic Fest 2021

Report by Giles Bryant

The inaugural Vegan Organic Network Fest took place August 12-16  at the beautiful Chyan Community near Falmouth in Cornwall.

The ever-smiling Dan Graham, set the tone for the festival with his relaxed demeanor as event organiser.  He did a fantastic job bringing a wide range of people together, from many parts of the world, to learn about veganic growing and the wide benefits it brings.   

I attended the event with two of my children (aged 4 and 9) and wife, Juliette.  I was booked to play music, and Juliette to give a talk on plant food and medicine.  We were part of an incredible schedule that had something for everyone: yoga, foraging, ecstatic dance, vegan organic talks, cooking demos, live music, walks, wild-swimming and delicious food.

The location for the event was perfect.  The Chyan Community and Farm has followed veganic principles for many years.  It powers itself from natural energy sources, has healthy spring water, super compost loos and an abundance of edible plants.  The fantastic structures they have created, largely from re-cycled and local materials provided spaces for workshops, live music and getting to know people over vegan cake and tea.

Personally, there were many highlights for me.  Seeing my children making friends, happy and free in a safe environment was wonderful.  Education is about learning new things but also about just ‘being’ as educationalist and Nobel Prize winning poet Rabindranath Tagore said, ‘so we may awaken the infinite wisdom from within’.

The movement and explorative games run by Nadya were wonderful.  She got a room full of people getting to know one another (and themselves) in a beautiful way.  The talk by Rich Hardy about his 2 decades as an undercover investigator into the abuses of the animal industry was both heart wrenching and enlightening.  Rich has now walked away from his undercover life to manage a veganic smallholding, and you can tell how being close to the soil, and serving a local community with great ethically sourced food is helping to heal the scars of the abuses he witnessed.

The live music at the event was wonderful.  There are too many great acts to mention but I particularly enjoyed flute player Dave Merrick teaming with guitar virtuoso Clive Mills as ‘Inner Voice’ –they brought deep relaxation to the evenings.  Things got a bit livelier with Anairda & The Anarkistas with their rebellious spirit.  The music jams that I led with Woodland Studios 432htz and Mark Barnwell raised the roof. 

On the Saturday night we were treated to an incredible circus performance in Chyan’s gigantic geo-dome.  In combination with the local Arts Trust and other charitable bodies, Chyan put on a top-class evening that left everyone spellbound with parkour from an amazing talent Said Moushssine from Morocco and a wild trapeze artist.

The event was inspiring, restorative and educational.  On the first morning Jon Dale led a foraging workshop.  In attendance were a number of foraging experts, and Jon’s humble and open style led to an incredible sharing of information.  Listening to conversations was fascinating: ‘This is how my grandmother used this plant in Latvia’.  ‘In France we call this plant pissing-the-bed’.  ‘My mind is blown!  I had no idea about the plants all around me.’

We celebrated our wedding anniversary during the event, and have treated ourselves to a spa day in the past.  This desire was taken care of at the Vegan Organic Network Fest, with the spring-fed natural swimming pool and wood-powered sauna and hot-tub.  Chyan even has posh changing rooms and a bath!  What a place!

The festival closed with an open forum led by Dan Graham about the next steps for the Vegan Organic Network.  Many people passionately shared their views and takes on this.  Certainly it provided food for thought, and helped people learn more about why the veganic way is so important for humanities future on this planet.

A big thanks to Brett Jackson and his team from Chyan who worked tirelessly to make sure everyone had a great time.  Brett taught yoga in the morning and then when their chef called off sick, donned his apron and prepared delicious and very reasonably priced food.  Some of the participants were ‘raw vegan’ and they had there fill too, as other food stalls appeared during the event – including raw cakes, raw smoothies and the wild foraging of Theresa and Effat (who led a 6 hour workshop on preparing local foods!)

It was lovely to meet so many inspirational people and to spend time in a place that we would one day like to replicate back in our part of the world.

The world needs more vegan organic wisdom and compassion.  This event was a wonderful way to spread that into the world.

Giles Bryant

Wisdom from the Vegan Organic Festival | Awakening with Giles Bryant & Guests






See you next year!

Jon Dale

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Jon forages for edible wild foods in the natural habitat where he lives in Cornwall. He runs a veganic project ‘Willow Way’, near Newquay, a place of education, teaching self sufficiency and veganic principles. To help heal the earth and help people to reduce their footprint. Also to help people become engaged with where their food comes from and how it is grown and also to reverse illness through this lifestyle.

A peaceful self-sufficient vegan garden in Belgium by Coline

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A peaceful self-sufficient vegan garden in Belgium by Coline This is my blog about my garden (with many more photos):

Illustration above by Coline Photos by Coline and Nicolas Photo below – first year of crops in 2016.

There are perennials (raspberries, tree onions, wild spinach), and at the back a plum tree. The other flowers and vegetables are milk thistle, marigold, borage, nasturtium, red and yellow chards, Tuscan black palm kale, tomatoes and potatoes. I added pieces of wood – shelters and food for animals such as louses, earthworms, centipedes, newts, slugs, ants and various beetles.

End of winter, early spring. The strong cold wind is still blowing, adding to the rain, and that’s the Belgian weather in my garden! But … I began the seedlings and I keep an optimistic attitude. One week after this, the sun is back. Birds are singing, and spring is coming soon! Ants, bees and beetles are back in the garden. My garden is located in the Belgian countryside and is approximately 2500 sq metres (0.6 acres). I grow flowers, fruit and vegetables stockfree in an orchard with apple trees (old varieties), plum trees (old varieties), cherry trees (several varieties), walnut trees, and several kinds of berries too.

Permaculture inspired me, but every day I try to find my own way with stockfree gardening. Here are some of my practices: no-dig, mulches all year, composting directly on the soil, growing old and forgotten varieties where possible, non-GMO and no F1 hybrids, wild perennial vegetables, saving seeds, and no crop rotations.

Wildlife is an integral part of my garden, and plays an important role. We share this space in harmony, and have a non-violent attitude. It’s a peaceful place for fauna and flora, and there are no pests here. This idea, and this word, shouldn’t exist in vegan gardening! No animal should be considered a pest.

Mon amie la taupe I love my garden, and I don’t want to and can’t control everything. My garden always has the remarkable and wonderful power to surprise me! Interesting examples are the moles and voles. They help me to garden! The moles aerate my soil (which is clay) as do the voles, but the moles (les taupes) design my garden too. In a few days, a molehill can be built – fantastic!

Later, I use it to grow plants. The moles and voles not only aerate the soil, but their tunnels are shelters for other animals (frogs, toads, bumblebees, shrews …).

Here are some of my homegrown vegetables and aromatic herbs: wild perennials (onion, celery, garlic, rocket, etc), red orach, various tomatoes, various potatoes, watercress, chards, black chickpeas, peas, various beans, various squashes, various cabbages, corns, radishes and basils, rosemary, thymes, tarragon, mint, lemon balm, flowers … To be self-sufficient in food as much as possible is an essential element of my vegan gardening, and I’m trying to depend on a minimum of consumer society. For example, I use a manual chaff-cutter (an old mechanical device made in England at the end of the 19th century). It was used in animal exploitation, and now I use it in a vegan garden to make various mulches. It’s a new life for this tool! About tools, my main and best one is a … tablespoon! I use it to plant most of the vegetables and flowers. The start of spring is better than it was last year (my first year in this garden), so I’m very busy with seedlings – and I love that!

Coline with tomatoes … and the old manual chaff-cutter

One of the plum trees in bloom (April 2017)

Ahhhhhhh, my friend la taupe (the mole)! She decided that one of my patches of land was really interesting. I let her go ahead and … a one metre in diameter molehill was built, a ready to use mound with very good soil. A mole’s gift. I began to grow tree onions, and later in the season I’ll grow more crops there.

Live Chat from Veganic Gardeners’ Question Time Episode 1

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00:13:17 Eva Lindberg: Hello, I am glad to join! Eva from Sweden
00:21:34 Karen Wilson: I have trouble with slugs and snails and want to manage them veganically please
00:23:23 Colleen Pereira: Karen, I have the same. I use wire half-moon loops which I cover with netting and stake that netting close into the ground. I actually use those convoluted mesh things that you shower with – once they are old and finished. I simply boil them and use them. I do this for my radishes and other root crops.
00:25:27 Karen Wilson: Thank you Colleen, that’s definitely something to look at.
00:25:53 Colleen Pereira: The holes in the mesh are too small for molluscs to pass through. If you can get hold of leopard slugs – they eat the others. And leave off manures and fertilizers – that attracts the molluscs.
00:27:11 Karen Wilson: I do have leopard slugs and I’m trying to cover the area with sharp wood chippings from my garden shredder.
00:28:26 Colleen Pereira: Karen, what also defers them are citrus peels scattered all over the planting area.
00:29:07 Karen Wilson: That’s a good tip thank you
00:30:03 Colleen Pereira: Karen, some people also use coffee grounds to dissuade them from coming in. And coffee grounds also tend to enrich the soil.
00:30:40 Karen Wilson: Marvellous!
00:32:34 paul paine: if you don’t want to waste avocado stones you can try this…
00:32:48 Colleen Pereira: We grew all three in Natal in South Africa.
00:37:58 Sue Nicholson: Very difficult to source Happy Compost and other vegan friendly compost at the moment
00:39:33 Jake Rayson: Sue, it is possible to bulk buy peatfree compost, I put together a leaflet for gardening clubs for #PeatFreeApril
00:39:48 Jake Rayson: Might be too much for 1 person tho!
00:41:32 Jake Rayson: Smallest amount is from Fertile Fibre, they do 1/4 pallets, but it is pricey
00:41:50 Sue Nicholson: Thanks Jake will follow up
00:43:36 Petra Wynbrandt: Do you consider vermicomposting or purchasing bags of worm castings to be veganic?
00:45:12 Carl Duffin: Leaving the lower leaves is great until the slug has eaten the whole seedling in its first week in the soil!
The answer to this has been to have back-up at home to replace or to use the damaged spot to grow something else – often a spot will be bad for one plant but ok for another.
00:45:16 paul paine: I use hops from the brewery as a mulch on my beds…
00:45:33 paul paine: my whole plot smells like IPA!
00:47:26 Jake Rayson: Re slugs, this is one of the reasons I want to transition to perennial vegetables. I always find it’s the seedlings that are most vulnerable
00:48:47 Anna Clayton: Claver Hill in Lancaster uses no dig on a 3 acres site- great!

00:49:15 Carl Duffin: One great thing against slugs is a pond, which will attract the slug’s arch enemy – the frog!
00:49:36 Colleen Pereira: Jake, that is true – re the seedlings. And especially when it rains. What I have done in the past was to grow them to a certain height indoors and then put them in the ground.
00:49:48 Karen Wilson: Yes Carl, I just built a wildlife pond and do have a frog!
00:50:21 Carl Duffin: Good job Karen 🙂
00:50:30 Jake Rayson: Yay for wildlife ponds!
00:50:49 Colleen Pereira: Carl, also if you can get a hedgehog or two to take up residence – that works too!
00:51:21 Jake Rayson: @Colleen how do you encourage a hedgehog to take residence?
00:51:32 Sue Nicholson: I’ve just built a wildlife pond and am hoping!!
00:51:41 Carl Duffin: I’ve never found coffee grounds to be successful against slugs – tried rings around seedlings and they still got munched.
00:52:28 Karen Wilson: Clay soil, my purple sprouting broccoli has done very well
00:52:34 Colleen Pereira: @Jake – who knows? I just had one move in for a while and then I never saw her again.
00:52:52 Carl Duffin: I have an open compost heap and also a hog-house in a quiet part of the plot but neither have been used by hedgehogs – yet …
00:53:35 Karen Wilson: Carl, they need to be able to get in the garden. On Hedgehog Street, you need about 7 gardens joined up?
00:54:27 Karen Wilson: hedgehogs – They say make a hole in fence or a hole under it to allow them to move along the territory.
00:54:32 Carl Duffin: My allotment plot is in the centre of a large allotment site. Unfortunately, most plotholders use slugs pellets.
00:54:53 Sue Nicholson: Would you still need cardboard if you used upended turf?
00:55:00 Colleen Pereira: This was great! Big thank you to VON!!!
00:55:02 Karen Wilson: Oh no, that kills hedgehogs and their babies!
00:55:20 Karen Wilson: Yes big thank you VON 🙂
00:55:27 Jake Rayson: 😞 need to spread the education about slug pellets to allotmenteers
00:55:38 Carl Duffin: True KAren, although new rules on the plot say not to use copper slug pellets, ferrous only.
00:55:52 paul paine: thanks everyone. very enjoyable. And far better than the BBC version!
00:55:58 Colleen Pereira: Y’alls, do you know you can eat the greens from radishes, beetroots and carrots?
00:56:08 Jake Rayson: Thank you all panellists and everyone! Learnt a lot, really useful 😀
00:56:40 Carl Duffin: THANK YOU 🙂
00:56:52 Anna Clayton: Thank you
00:56:58 Amanda Stracey: Thanks everyone.
00:57:01 Karen Wilson: Colleen Ive eaten carrot and beetroot tops
00:57:08 Carl Duffin: and thank you to everyone on Webinar chat!
00:57:10 Sue Nicholson: Really helpful session
00:57:43 Colleen Pereira: Beetroot leaf curry is magic!