One Path to Veganic Permaculture

From Organic to Veganic Farming and Beyond....

I was an Organic farmer when Organic was not cool. In 1988, I managed the transition to Certified Organic of 200 acres in New Jersey with 9 vegetable & fruit crops. In the 1990s, I began moving towards "eco-organic" systems management on my own farm in Montana, experimenting with habitat and soil building strategies to increase plant, insect, and microorganism diversity and provide year-round soil cover, using living mulches and green manures.

For more on my living mulch system see living mulch.

By 2004 I was evolving towards a more permanent organic agriculture in a new field on my Montana farm, further reducing tillage and off-farm fertilizer, experimenting with permanent, no-till living mulch row middles, and bringing more and more wildness onto the farm. See agroecology experiments.

My focus expanded further in 2007 to veganic, permanent soil cover farming. Veganic Permaculture is my way of honoring all living beings and gardening/farming with an unconditional effort to keep all things alive and growing.

Veganic Permaculture is a willingness to balance my existence with the natural world.

It means respecting the basic right of life for all things: from the soil microorganisms whom I try not to disturb with tillage, to the birds, frogs, snakes, butterflies, and insects whom I do not poison with insecticides, the weeds who are not killed with herbicides, the domestic animals who are not killed for food or to provide bonemeal/bloodmeal fetilizer, and the wildlife who are not trapped or killed.

I watched the video Earthlings and my path was clear. I began to experiment with "grow-your-own plant-based fertilizer and stopped using manure-based compost. The plant-based fertilizers worked as well as manure compost without creating excessive soil phosphorus, potassium, and nitrate-nitogen levels.

Then in 2010, I sold my commercial Organic vegetable & fruit farm in Montana and began to experiment with veganic forest gardens modeled after functioning forest ecosystems. One forest garden was created in a 35-year Certified Organic fruit orchard in northern California.

Another small forest garden was created in Western Montana. I discovered that the biology is the easy part, the hard part is my choices and needs. In DOING veganic permaculture, I discovered my own "radical simplicity".

Now I am farming commercially again, with my partner, still listening to the land, learning & evolving new farming methods, and growing our diet on a 211 acre farm in Eastern Oregon. 141 acres are maintained in undisturbed native grass/sage high desert as a wildlife santuary. Animals are not used for food or manure in our veganic, eco-organic orchards with 600 peach, pear, apple, apricot, plum, pluot, hazelnut, and walnut trees nor in our living mulch vegetable, grain, and dry bean fields.

Native animals, birds, and insects wander through and join the system as pollinators, biological-control agents, nutrient-cyclers, and consumers.

We grow most of our diet of fruits, nuts, vegetables, beans, grains, and mushrooms. Annual grains, dry beans, and vegatables grow in a diverse polyculture surrounded by legume living mulches and flowering herbs or "weeds".

For more on our version of Fukuoka Natural Farming, growing grains in a way that mimics a native grassland ecosystem see: natural farming.

for more on veganic methods see PowerPoint Presentations: Veganic Farming and Gardening and Eating Veganic - What You Should Know About How Your Food is Grown.

Find more veganic gardening/farming information at: gentleworld.org, goveganic.net, Vegan Organic Network, greenvegans.org, and NWVEG's Veganic Gardening forum

Veganic Permaculture and Eco-Organic Farming

For me, farming with perennial ground covers, reduced tillage, and mostly perennial crops makes ecological sense and vegainc permaculture makes moral sense.

Eco-organic and Veganic permaculture farms and gardens will not all look the same! They will mimic nature in the climates/environments where they are and manage ecological relationships rather than crops alone. Here are ten ecological principles that have helped me build soil and habitat while managing relationships and agro-ecosystem interactions rather than just crops.

1. Diversify the soil food web with crop & ground cover diversity.

2. Disturb the soil as little as possible; create year-round refuges for natural enemies (such as insect predators & parasites, birds, bats, frogs & snakes).

3. Grow a living root in the soil year-round & feed the rhizosphere.

4. Keep soil covered with as much plant diversity as possible.

5. Add organic residues regularly throughout the year, not all at once in the spring.

6. Focus on slow-release, plant-based Carbon fertilizer amendments rather than fast-release Nitrogen fertilzers.

7. Recycle nutrients within the plant community, rather than import mined nutrients.

8. Selective fertilization; avoid fertilizing the whole field or garden.

9. Selective weeding: choose your ground cover; then chop & drop only crop-competetive weeds.

10. Maintain or create wild habitat as close to crops as possible.

For more on creating and maintaining beneficial insect habitat see:Beneficial Insect Habitat Building.

Selective weeding and creating a groundcover ecology is also an important part of creating and maintaining beneficial insect habitat and soil building.

For more on mature Forest Gardens see:Forest Garden Examples.

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Veganic Permaculture is hosted by the Permaculture forums at Permies.com