Veganic grower-to-grower certification

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So excited to invite Organic Lea to become veganic growers. There inspection will be carried out in the next few months. Organiclea is a very well known community food project based in the Lea Valley in north-east London. They produce and distribute food and plants locally, and inspire and support others to do the same. With a workers’ cooperative at our core, they bring people together to take action towards a more just and sustainable society. 

Veganic grower-to-grower certification Facebook group

Volunteering with the Land Army

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Spend a day on the land getting your hands dirty, meet some lovely people and get some new skills all at the same time. If you are keen to come along have a look at the dates below and email to book your place.

– Saturday 12th & Sunday 13th January –  Abbey Leys

– Saturday 9th & Sunday 10th February –  Woodbank

– Saturday 2nd March – Woodbank

– Wednesday 13th March – Woodbank

– Saturday 16th March – Woodbank

A day out with The Land Army is quite a physical day’s work (though we’ll look after you and make sure you get proper breaks!), but it’s really satisfying and a great way to get your hands dirty, learn a bit about commercial scale food growing, and meet like-minded and interesting people like you!

Make sure you come prepared. You’ll need waterproofs, sturdy footwear such as wellies or boots, and drinking water. And it’s a good idea to wear clothes you don’t mind getting a bit mucky in! In return for your hard work we provide a healthy, home-made lunch and plenty of tea and biscuits – two things we find go hand in hand with working on the land!

Inspired by the women’s land armies of the First and Second World Wars, The Land Army was set up to help small organic growers in Greater Manchester increase their yields and strengthen their businesses. We currently work mainly with new organic growers, supporting them at the beginning of their journey towards establishing viable and productive farms.

Our volunteers come from all walks of life and enjoy being part of The Land Army for many different reasons. You might be thinking about growing your own food at home or on an allotment, want to meet like-minded people, or simply have some spare time on your hands and fancy doing something totally different – either way, we’d love to hear from you! Becoming a Land Army volunteer is simple. You can join our mailing list by completing the form below to receive regular updates about Land Army trips. Or, you can keep an eye on the top of this page for upcoming dates. And if you want to come along, send us an email or give us a ring – and that’s it!

Land Army trips usually take place on Wednesdays and Saturdays and run from 10am until 5.00pm. We provide lunch, drinks and snacks, all tools and gloves are also provided.

Land Army volunteer and ‘city kid’ Luiza shared her perspective after getting stuck in at FarmStart Woodbank.

“Working as a Land Army volunteer was not only exciting because I could eat a lot of freshly picked tomatoes (!), but because it got my creative juices flowing. The new generation of urban farmers is young, motivated and idealistic. They are bringing the countryside closer to the city in what appears to me to be a new stage of the urbanization process that first set these two worlds apart in the 18th century. How exciting is that? Whether you want to be a grower or not, visiting new farms is a way of putting the food system into perspective and watching this process happening at first hand.” (Read her full blog post here.)

And here’s a lovely post by Sokhema Nara (Development Studies student and Project Officer at Transparency International Cambodia) on her experience with the Land Army. Thanks to Sokhema for letting us share it.

“Volunteering as Land Army for the FarmStart project with The Kindling Trust was an awesome experience! We’ve got to learn about the sustainable food and organic farm in UK. I like the concept of FarmStart as the opportunity for people to pilot their farming work while reducing the risk, which can help young entrepreneurs kick start their farming incubator! It was a one day worth spending. Surprisingly, all volunteers were girls! We had an exhausting, but educational and fun time figuring out how to build the saw table from scratch, cutting woods, putting fence for water barrel, making the sign boards for veggie selling and getting to know new friends! Looking forward to the next exciting volunteer journey!”

For more information and to book email or call us on 0161 818 8384.

Greater Manchester Land Army On-line Registration

The Grow Where You Are Collective

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Eugene Cooke began working in the urban agriculture movement in Southern California.  He was baptized in urban gardening with a full immersion mentorship with Adonijah Miyamura El in Los Angeles developing Food Forestry at Crenshaw High school.

This project was the transformation of an abandoned ¾ acre agriculture center into a subtropical food forest and learning oasis. The 4 years of this apprenticeship deepened Eugene’s awareness to the vital need to restore the soil and encourage tree and vegetable growth in urban areas. Working multiple public and private Food Forestry projects opened opportunities for entrepreneurship, non profit service and meeting motivated community members.  Eugene met Rashid Nuri in Los Angeles and after two years of planning they both came to Atlanta in 2006 to begin Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture. Since then, Eugene continued to hone his craft and his love of growing by traveling nationally and internationally to learn from exemplary organizations encouraging local food systems. Eugene has worked in Jamaica with One Love Learning Foundation, in Haiti with League of Hope and traveled to Kenya twice to absorb the richness of possibilities of what small scale, intensive local food systems can be.

At this time  the agro-ecological principles of Pierre Rabhi deeply influence his work in urban and suburban areas. 

Eugene Cooke

JoVonna Johnson-Cooke is owner and co-founder of MaituFoods, LLC, a vegan meal delivery service and vegan nutrition education hub. Through MaituFoods, she is working to develop culturally appropriate and accessible educational materials that highlight the benefit of healthy nutrition through a vegan diet. The MaituFoods’ Mother’s Meal Program works to provide women, especially those in modest means households, with the knowledge and guidance to achieve a healthy pregnancy and optimal postpartum recovery through a vegan meal and nutrition program.

The overall mission of MaituFoods is to honor the art of food rituals, and to serve humanity in a way that promotes the least harm and the most good for people, animals, and the environment. As co-founder of Grow Where You Are, she works with a dynamic team of people committed to local food sovereignty by assisting individuals and communities in creating sustainable plant-based local food systems.

Nicole Bluh has approached Urban Agriculture through the lens of years of studying about nature, earth-skills, the wilderness, and holistic healthcare with teachers all across the US. After years of volunteering with Truly Living Well, Nicole became the Operations Coordinator.  Her responsibilities included coordinating the training program, seed saving, harvest and greenhouse management. In 2011, she co-developed and ran the first Urban Farm Summer Camp at TLW.  In 2012 she developed an agriculture program for Elementary School-age students at the Inspire Cooperative School in Midtown which ran through 2014.  In addition to being the Operations Coordinator for Grow Where You Are LLC, she was the Farmer-In-Residence at the East Lake Community Urban Farm for the 2014 season.  This residency included running and fulfilling a CSA for a local school, designing and implementing crop rotation and coordinating events. 

Nicole’s passion for Natural Health has been a potent driving force in developing her own eco-entrepreneurial endeavor. ThirdMoon Botanica was created in 2013 where she educates people about the powerful and necessary nutrition available in the wild plants and how to harvest  

Swamp Circus Goes Veganic

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It is now 20 years since Swamp Circus got a contract to perform their shows in the big top at Falmouth’s Tall Ships Festival. 1998 found the troupe of acrobats working the sun stroked lands of Southern France with a 300 seat tent and a vegan cafe run at times by Liz Cooke of vegan food poster fame. The vegan cafe was run in an awning on the side of our yellow and blue striped double decker bus next to the same striped big top.

Coming back to Cornwall where i had spent much childhood energy on its north coast craggy beaches i suddenly realised that i needed somewhere to belong and though I loved France i didnt belong there unless I was travelling. And that was the trick, the new trick…. after a lifeime of travelling with my family and then as a troupe of acrobats and dancers , i wanted to settle down. A clown living in an old qwarry near penryn said there was land next door but i didnt have  abean and i didnt hang out with anyone who had many beans. The farmer was invited to the show and post show pints led to a private agreement on land that i was now interested in a it had 7 springs of fresh water..

When you have travelled in the south the value of water becomes clear and the value of water was sure to escalate. The dreams of irrigated fresh organic fruits and food began to grow and suddenly I was in a rush to get started , bring things back from France and get seedlings in the ground.

My first lesson started after I had in friendly fashion invited the neighbours round to the double decker bus for drinks and snacks and to sample some snippets of the dream we saw for Chyan with its higgledy piggledy fields set in a little valley bisected by a small river with woods and old qwarries either side. A site that had grown Cornish black oats and kept pigs and had an old granite pig barn. There were some old apple trees and lots of bedraggled Goat Willow, old broken static caravans and a barn full of long horned scottish cows that preferred the woods and one day disappeared to the farmers new fields nearby.

Anyway in short the rich hippy neighbours shopped us to the planning authority, who promptly put a notice on the double decker bus and sent rolly polly chaps round in suits to ask what we were doing. Over tea the vegan farm plans were produced with apple and plum trees and salad gardens, medicinal plant beds and field crops…

What about pigs they said ‘ you need to keep pigs ‘ they stated ; to be a farm, ‘ vegetables dont count. ‘

And that was the beginning of a 20 year battle to have a vegan farm. Oh yes – we have a farm holding number and for 5 years we had Soil Association Certification but to get planning to take us seriously was a mission. But now after all the years we realise that planning is what you make it and the more of us starting small holdings the better.

Chyan created a community field and organic allotments for the public, events and courses followed and gradually we no longer had to rely on our travellers heritage . It was still a shock in 2002 when we discovered that the council had published on their website a page about sustainable development and in the centre of the page sat a photograph of Chyan’s Earthship wash house and an article on our little community.

Its ironic that even after 20 years of camping including a vegan camp in 1999; and though Chyan has been used as an example of community growing and sustainable building , we still cant get lawful use for a camp site and to run forest school and nature study courses! And yet Cornwall is now plastered with housing developments unaffordable for most locals.. A little birdie has indicated that they are scared that a president might get set and the people start to get the land back!

Chyan started fruit juice production and bottling 7 years ago and the amounts each year have depended on the weather and bees. The production is growing year to year and the bottles sold locally in cafes, bars, hotels and wholefood shops. it is one of the only organic juices in Cornwall and will never become mass produced. Alongside apple juice sales Chyan produces bagged salads, preserves, chutney, dried herbs and teas, medicinal creams and organic cider vinegar. Recently apple and blackberry and apple and beetroot juices have become popular.

Field crops and garden vegetables are used by the community of 20 people living communally at Chyan and also eaten by the campers using the popular. campsites. Much of the sales are on Chyan at events such as the SURYA YOGA Camp. Cornwall Circus Camp , the Spring Fair and ever popular Apple Fayre and various other events throughout the year that often have the vegan cafe working.

The need for an organic Farming or vegan farming course has become very evident and so in 2016 we contacted several organic growers. The feedback was encouraging and the Soil Association encouraged us further by giving us their organic farming course structure and modules. And so the diploma in vegan farming was launched and will be made public in 2019. We have built a wind powered training centre which we aim to service with an electric wind-powered mini bus. It looks like 2019 will be busy so watch this space and more about Chyan to come..

Brett Jackson 2018

Chyan Farm and Cultural Centre