Veganic Gardening: Organic Growing Gets a Heart


For gardeners (experienced or potential), even the first week of January isn’t too soon to start thinking ahead. 

And veganic gardening,’s very first garden topic, is one we’d love to have every gardener do more than think about.


Because it actually accomplishes what this remarkable quote from Will Bonsall’s Guide to Radical, Self-Reliant Gardening credits organic gardening with doing:

“Your garden is… like a pebble dropped in the water – what you perceive as a boundary is just the innermost ripple; countless other ripples spread out from there and bounce back from afar.

This must be so, else how can we call a garden organic? I mean organic as in organism: a unified living system whose parts function to the benefit of one another and the whole.”

Why did I say “credits” with doing?

Because an organic garden is grown without chemically-based soil amendments, fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. The USDA makes that claim on every plant-based food carrying its organic label.

However, what the USDA can’t guarantee is that those plant-based foods have been grown in a “system whose parts function to the benefit of one another and the whole.” veganic

Their organic standards allow the use of “natural” soil amendments, fertilizers, and pesticides. The USDA has no problem certifying organic crops raised with products from confined or slaughtered animals! Aren’t they part of the “whole?”

Organic gardening also permits the use of “natural” pesticides. The idea is to reduce pollution and avoid contaminating the soil with chemicals that could end up in your food.

But as far as the “pests” are concerned, using pesticides immediately destroys the concept of a garden functioning “to the benefit of… the whole…”

Just ask a bee that came to collect nectar to feed its hive, pollinated the garden in the process, and died before returning home because of exposure to a “natural” pesticide.

Organic Gardening and the Ripple Effect

What happens in a garden doesn’t stay there.

Will Bonsall’s insight into the organic connection between all living things reminded me of a passage from The Emotional Lives of Animals (reviewed here last spring). Its author, renowned animal researcher and advocate Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., wrote:

“We’re not the only sentient creatures with feelings, and with this knowledge come the enormous responsibility and obligation to treat other beings with respect, appreciation, compassion, and love.”

So that brings me to the question: “If vegans wanted to start raising their own fruits and veggies, is organic gardening really the best they can do?”

Can we eliminate all animal products from the plant-based food on our plates??


Veganic Gardening Is A Better Way

 And one group has been practicing and sharing it for nearly 25 years!

In 1996, the UK’s Vegan Organic Network educational charity came into being. Its founders were committed to “veganic” (from “vegan” and” organic “) gardening. Their promise?

“…[T]hat food is grown in an organic way with only plant based fertilizers, encouraging functional biodiversity so pesticides are not necessary. No chemicals, no GMO and no animal by products in any part of the chain.”

In essence,” they continue, “veganic is a logical step beyond organic for those who seek safe food grown in a sustainable manner.”

Safe and sustainable for the Earth and all Earthlings, human or otherwiseOr, circling back to where I began:

“… a unified living system whose parts function to the benefit of one another and the whole.”

A Veganic Gardening System Benefits the Whole

Like traditional organic gardens, veganic gardens grow free of petroleum- or chemical-based pesticides and herbicides. But they go much further in attempting to minimize their adverse “ripple effects.”

When possible, a vegan garden’s design mimics natural conditions suitable for the local wildlife. The gardener’s goal is to create an ecologically feasible, sustainable space.

If the garden doubles as a wildlife habitat, plows, tractors, or other cover-disturbing machinery are off-limits. So are poison, traps, or firearms, even if some of the inhabitants feed on the crops.

A veganic gardener shuns soil amendments with ingredients sourced from factory-farmed animals, commercial fisheries, or slaughterhouses, including:

  • manure
  • compost
  • bone meal
  • blood meal
  • fish meal
  • feather meal (yes, there is such a thing!)

Going Veganic in Your Garden

Whether you’re an experienced gardener or someone eager to get started, the idea of going veganic might seem a bit intimidating.

After all, it requires giving up mainstream products and being willing to share your growing space with wild creatures who also need it- maybe even more than you!

So please join us over the next few weeks for a look at how successful veganic gardeners have learned to live in harmony with their furred and feathered neighbors. (They do without any of the meat or fish industries’ cruelly obtained “help.”)

And if they’ve been doing it, so can you!

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