Is it possible to grow food without exploiting animals in gardening/homesteading and farming systems? Even if we did not keep domesticated animals, isn’t it necessary to at least use animal manure? The veganic way of growing shows us that not only is it possible to grow fruits, vegetables and herbs without manure, but it is also productive, ecologically sustainable and regenerative for our rapidly depleting agricultural soils.
Veganic farming, growing & gardening is the cultivation and production of food and fiber crops with a minimal amount of exploitation to all animal and plant species. Veganic methods use no animal products or by-products, such as blood meal, bone meal, manure, urea, fish meal, fish emulsion or any other animal originated matter, because the production of these products either harms animals specifically or is connected with the subsequent suffering of those beings.
Furthermore while ‘organic’ cultivation allows for the use of organo-pesticides, fungicides and herbicides and conventional cultivation uses all manner of chemical toxins, veganics would not as applying and spraying these poisons highly disrupts the native floral and faunal balance of the growing systems.
So, in fact, veganic growing is the only way to ensure that we are breaking the chain of animal agriculture in our growing and farming systems. Revealing the main philosophy: Cultivating for the benefit of all beings.
This sounds good in theory, but do these models exist?
La Ferme de l’aube veganic farm
Buckwheat cover crop with sunflowers in the background
Monarch butterflies flocking to the cultivated hemp-agrimony plantings
In 2014, I (Jimmy) and Mélanie Bernier established La Ferme de l’Aube with a vision of what could be possible growing veganically and productively for all beings to share. We created a small micro farm/homestead on less than ½ acre of space of the 6-acre property, with the intention of letting the rest re-wild.
We focus on:
Soil building: We strive to increase organic matter (SOM) using plant-based composts, green manures (cover crops) including, buckwheat, clover and oats. We cover the soil in winter by allowing all garden plants and native flora to freeze and rest on the low or no-till permanent beds. Two soil tests comparing soil organic matter (SOM) and soil organic carbon (SOC) were taken in 2016 and 2022 and revealed a 38.46% increase. Here are the results:
SOM=Soil organic matter, CEC= Cation exchange associated with nutrient availability in soils, pH = power of Hydrogen is the relative acidity/alkalinity of soils (7.0 = neutral), SOC=soil organic carbon directly related to ability for soils to sequester carbon
|Year||SOM %||CEC||pH||SOC %|
Diversity of Plantings: We cultivate over 400 varieties of fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers, shrubs and trees. Through these annual and perennial plantings, we seek to invite a biodiverse faunal realm of insects, birds, reptiles, amphibians and animals.
In 2018 we conducted a farm wide biodiversity study to obtain a better understanding of the inhabitants here. The results were quite impressive.
• Over 120 bird species were observed with over 50 breeding on site.
• 15 species of reptiles and amphibians
• 25 species of mammals
• Over 150 species of spiders, butterflies, bees, beetles and other insects, but this only scratching the surface as many more were undocumented due to my lack of training, not for the lack of them living here.
In August of 2018 a bumblebee point count observed 80 individuals. In 2022 that population grew to 182, an incredible 228% increase. The endangered Monarch butterfly population was 6 in August of 2018, in August 2022, 25 were observed, the highest number ever recorded on the farm. All indicators in 2022 pointed to the fact that all faunal numbers increased. This data proves to us that our cultivated diversity and re-wilding is improving the ecosystem for all residents and migrants. For the Monarchs we made a concerted effort to let re-wild vast milkweed patches as well as in our cultivated gardens, which is the Monarch’s necessary plant for their survival. Another full-scale biodiversity study is underway in 2023.
Food production for Humans
Food production for human consumption began in earnest in 2017.
Total recorded production from 2017-2022 in kg, hectares farmed and an expression in kg/hectare
|2017||1,227 kg||.13||9,440 kg/ha|
|2018||2,360 kg||.19||12,677.8 kg/ha|
|2019||2,379 kg||.19||12,779.9 kg/ha|
|2020||2,509 kg||.19||13,478.2 kg/ha|
|2021||2,781 kg||.19||14,939.4 kg/ha|
|2022||2,327 kg||.17||13,688.2 kg/ha|
From 2018 on, the farm provided nourishment for 40 families per week for 15 weeks and eliminated a food desert in our region. It provided us with a year-round food supply as well. All this was being done with almost no waste, solely a mere 1% of post-harvest production. Because it just seemed to make sense, we created a thriving artisanal seed company specializing in open-pollinated and heirloom varieties.
We felt that the production was so exceptional that I initiated a study in cooperation with the Humane Party, USA comparing veganic to conventional and organic agriculture methods. We found that veganic was 3% and 41% more productive, respectively. Further when comparing vegan agriculture to the best animal agriculture model it was found to be over 4,000% more productive acre per acre.
The agricultural revolution is veganic
As gardeners and farmers, we can make a difference with every planting season by practicing solid, ecologic, veganic principles. Revolution in agriculture is on our doorstep. We can change how we treat our ‘Earth Mother’ with every action. All inhabitants on this planet deserve life, to live as they see fit. Once we learn that we can grow efficiently, productively and compassionately with all beings in mind we can begin to see the way forward in ending animal agriculture forever. It is all within our grasp. A new day, a liberated day can shine on us all.
Jimmy Videle is the author of The Veganic Grower’s Handbook: Cultivating Fruits, Vegetables and Herbs from Urban Backyard to Rural Farmyard (The Veganic Grower’s Handbook – Lantern (lanternpm.org) , and co-founder of NAVCS-Certified Veganic North American Veganic Certification Standard – Serving USA, Canada, and Mexico (certifiedveganic.org)
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