Before I moved to Katrine Bank (and before I even met my current partner) I was beginning to explore different approaches to growing and came across the vegan organic approach. Ticked all my boxes and seemed like a sensible approach for me as a committed vegan. However, as the partner of a meat eater who really believes in the power of building the soil (as do I) we are using rotten-down muck from a local farm as part of building the soil and adding nutrients.
I’m reminded of the potential clash of values / hypocrisy of this decision every time I am distributing the muck to different parts of the garden (which is a fair amount of the time just now – with fruit bushes and trees due to be planted and veg beds to prep for the coming season). And in the same way that I buy second hand leather shoes from charity shops, using muck does sit OK with my “pragmatic vegan” approach to gardening. We’re building rich soil to grow food. We’re using a waste product from a local business (it only travels about 3 miles) & a waste product from, in the broader sense, the food cycle my partner is part of.
Today was even more “in my face” as I was also adding feathers to said fruit bush holes (as a slow release of nutrients). Feathers are that bit closer to actual animals and I confess I find them harder to deal with than the muck, but these feathers are from very old feather pillows which would, likely, have ended up on a landfill otherwise. So, again, I’d rather they were in the ground than not.
It would be lovely (in some ways) if life was black and white – but I certainly find myself living in the in between of varying degrees of grey most of the time. While prepping these nutrient rich holes I was also adding some of our home-made pure-vegan compost (primarily grass clippings – which aren’t exactly “vegan” as I certainly wouldn’t be able to digest them!) as we are aiming towards a closed-loop nutrient cycle on site if we can – and that in itself was pretty exciting to see how a (very poorly cared for) compost heap had done. So it isn’t black and white. If I was living with other vegans would it be different? Maybe, possibly, probably. But I’m not – this is the life I’ve chosen, this is the partner I’ve chosen…and overall, I’m really excited to have spent a good chunk of time preparing what I hope to be very happy new homes for some wonderfully productive plants!