Five Steps to Promote Veganic Farming Today

We’re very excited to announce that Millahcayotl held the first meeting of the new Working Group on Veganic Farming whose mission is to promote veganic farming as the basis of our food systems.

Like organic, veganic farming does not use synthetic fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides. Veganic goes a step further and eschews animal fertilizers such as manure, fish emulsion, bone meal, blood and feathers. Most organic agriculture relies heavily on these and there is no restriction in the US on sourcing them from slaughterhouses, factory farms and other non-organic sources. Not only does organic farming support intensive animal agriculture, it also falls short of its promise from health and environmental stand-points. The pesticides, hormones and antibiotics that animals consume are applied to soils and make their way into foods that are marketed as organic.

Some organic production, labeled or not, is more in line with the commonly held image of organic. Farmers will approach their production more holistically, which likens it to an agroecological approach. Some key elements of this approach are to aim to have a closed cycle and to nurture and work with biodiversity instead of battling it. A closed cycle would mean for example that only the manure of the animals on the farm would be used. Millahcayotl is a strong supporter of agroecology, recognizing that it can be practiced without animal exploitation.*

Unfortunately, the food movement has mostly defaulted to farming models that incorporate farm animals for food and agricultural inputs. While we agree that these models are better than conventional farming in terms of sustainability and social justice, they still make use of animal exploitation where none is required. Furthermore, this movement (an admittedly broad umbrella term) has helped further the mistaken notion that farm animals are a necessary part of local, sustainable food systems. The fact that there exists a more sustainable version of animal agriculture has morphed into the idea that this is the only version of sustainability. The choice between conventional agriculture and sustainable food systems that rely on local, organic animal agriculture is a false dichotomy, but one that is convenient for those keen on maintaining the status quo of animal exploitation.

Not only is veganic farming possible, it is more sustainable. Veganic farming does not depend on external inputs from animal agriculture and requires less resources overall. Farmer Helen Atthowe has also pointed out that many farms that raise cows still purchase manure because they can not produce enough of it for their fertilizing needs. And as Matt Loisel of Lazy Millennial Farms puts it, there are not enough animals to keep growing organic agriculture. Many people are interested in disengaging from the corporate food system and in treading more lightly on our planet; veganic is the next logical step. Veganic farming is not only better for animals, it is more in line with the goals of self-reliance, autonomy and harmony with our natural environment.

Here are five steps you can take today to promote veganic farming:

– Speak to the farmers at your local market. They may not make the shift right away, but they’ll know that there is a growing consumer base interested in buying veganic produce.

– If you garden veganically, post about it online. If you don’t, get started! Let’s build visibility and redress the misconception that gardening and farming require either synthetic or animal inputs.

– If you have friends involved in local food sovereignty efforts such as urban gardens, encourage them to go veganic and to oppose the farming of chickens, goats and other animals in their project.

– If you have friends who garden or have access to space to garden, gift them one of the following books: Will Bonsall’s Essential Guide to Radical, Self-Reliant Gardening, The Vegan Book of Permaculture, or Grow Where You Are: An Introduction to Urban Agriculture for the Conscious Urban Dweller.

– Like the Facebook page of the Working Group on Veganic Farming and come or call in to our next meeting!

*This excellent video about Woodleaf farm shows what this can look like.