Veganism grew from a grassroots ethos, and although these days it's roots have gloriously deepened and it's branches spread and beautifully flowered in a global and more mainstream way, it is important to look back at the 'roots' every now and then. In this age of technology, worldwide access and ease of availability of food and other products, it is all too easy to forget the true and basic ethics of veganism and where exactly our food comes from. That plastic wrapped vegan cheese may be yummy but it's fairly far removed from 'real food'. As Joni Mitchell once sang in the 60's hippy anthem 'Woodstock', 'we've got to get ourselves back to the garden'.
Recently we heard of a relatively new project that most certainly could help us 'get back to the garden' and revisit the basics of food production and sustainability. The Naturally Vegan Plot draws on the two decades of experience and learning of the two vegan founders, Elaine and Jim, with inspiration from their friend, mentor and founder of Plants For The Future, Ken Fern.
The Naturally Vegan Plot, which took root in September of last year, is set on 3.5 acres of land near the Cornwall/Devon border. Although it's overarching theme is veganic horticulture, it's aims are varied, numerous and exciting. First off the project strives to 'grow and show' how successful horticulture without the use of animals and animal derived products can be. Demonstrations, courses, workshops, field trips, research and consultations will take this practical implementation a step further so that it can become a centre of information and education for all those interested in veganism, horticulture, sustainability, learning new skills or re-learning old and basic skills long since forgotten.
The long term plans for the land itself make it sound like a true vegan Eden. They include a woodland garden, WET systems, a natural swimming pool, edible ponds and bog gardens, demonstration gardens, a market garden and a plant nursery. Many years ago I used to spend a lot of time searching out and visiting interesting gardens and plant nurseries. In latter years, with other priorities taking over, it is something that has fallen by the wayside and along with it much of my developing experience. When reading the description of the Naturally Vegan Plot I felt that old excitement bubbling up again. Perhaps it is exactly what I need to lead me 'back to the garden' on many levels.
It's early days yet, as the video shows, but the buds are most definitely showing. There are already courses planned and advertised on their website, all at exceedingly good value I might add. For instance you can attend a Compost Toilet Course this coming summer at £80 for two full days, and this includes vegan food and accommodation.
For full details on the project you can visit The Naturally Vegan Plot website or catch up with the latest on their Facebook page. We will be watching with interest and hopefully will have a chance to go and see how things are coming along later in the year.