Posts Tagged ‘veganic farming’

Announcing: Veganic CSA from Animal Place!

Animal Place’s Veggie Box!
Pre-order/reserve your weekly produce box today!

Share the harvest this season with Animal Place’s veganic farm! Join the only veganic Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program in Sacramento and Nevada County, California. All proceeds directly benefit the rescue, care and advocacy for farmed animals at Animal Place.

What it is: Members receive a weekly box of fresh produce grown at Animal Place’s 2.8-acre vegan farm located in Grass Valley, California.

Also included in the CSA membership is a weekly newsletter with updates from the farm, what’s in the box and vegan recipes. Members will be invited to an annual member celebration day in the fall and are encouraged to visit Animal Place throughout the year during our open hours.

Why veganic agriculture: Most farms (organic and conventional) use by-products of animal farming, including blood meal, bone meal, fish emulsion, feather meal, and manure. At Animal Place, we honor the animal residents and nonhumans everywhere by not using their bodies and excrement to grow food. Our growing practices are 100% plant-based, organic*, and compassionate.

Our farm serves as a working model for farming without using animal by-products and furthers our mission to end animal suffering while living more compassionately.

How it works: Each week, we harvest seasonal fresh vegetables and herbs from our farm for our members. The season runs for 22 weeks from late May/early June through October. Exact dates are dependent on the weather. Members may sign up at any time for a pro-rated amount, but space is limited.

Members near Grass Valley can choose to pick-up their weekly box at Animal Place sanctuary on Wednesdays. If you choose to pick-up at Animal Place, a weekly box is $25 ($550 for all 22 weeks).

For members in Sacramento, a weekly box is $27 ($594 for all 22 weeks). Pick-up is from 4 to 7pm on Wednesdays, at Sacramento Grange Hall, 3830 U St.**

Payment can be made in full by March 31, or in two installments due March 31 and August 1.  We accept payment by check or credit card.  Members who pay in full by March 31 receive a 5% discount. For more information on payment schedules, please see our FAQ.

We grow a diverse selection of crops, providing you with an ample variety of healthy food in your diet. Our one-size box will be at least 2/3 full, about the equivalent of a full brown grocery bag, with around 6 to 10 different items.

A typical spring box includes: arugula, beets, carrots, green onions, lettuce, radishes, carrots and peas. Summer brings on the tasty tomatoes, along with summer squash, cucumbers, eggplant, bell peppers, potatoes, honeydew melons and green beans. In the fall, you can expect to enjoy butternut squash, yellow onions, kale and all of the fixings for a hearty vegan soup.

Farmers Steph & Greg

Farmers Steph & Greg

To sign up or learn more: contact Steph Litus
Visit our farm on facebook: Grow It Kindly
Animal Place website:

*Animal Place is in the process of attaining organic certification.
** If this time is inconvenient, please let us know. We may be able to accommodate!


Q&A: Tofu left-overs feed the soil

Question from Shlomy Goldman in Cranston, Rhode Island:

I’m inspired by what you guys are doing. I’m growing my first garden ever this season (I’m on the east coast) and I’m doing it veganic! I brought in some leaf mold compost which I put on top of turned sod to start my garden. I think the compost is a bit carbon rich. I’ve already got a mixture of vegetables beginning to grow. Can you make a recommendation on amendments I should add? I am about to start making my own tofu. would the okara, the left over pulp from making soymilk be nitrogen rich? Is okara different from soybean meal? how would I use it for the crops? Any other suggestions?

Answer by Greg Litus, Animal Place horticulturist:

I had assumed that the leftovers from tofu manufacturing would be depleted of proteins and most other minerals.  However, that isn’t the case. In a study about the various uses of okara published by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Characteristics and Use of Okara, the Soybean Residue from Soy Milk Production, the okara was found to be high in crude fibers but also contains 25% protein and other minerals as described in the article.  The one thing missing from the article is okara’s potential as fertilizer.

Okara would be useful as a fertilizer in the same way that your leaf mold compost is a good soil amendment.   All organic rich soil amendments depend on healthy soil microbial activity to break down the carbon.  That process takes time and can initially cause a reduction in available nutrients to plants as the soil microbes sequester those nutrients.  For that reason it is usually best to apply amendments like okara a few weeks to months before it is time to plant.   That time period allows microbial action to take organic forms of nitrogen and phosphorous and make those nutrients available to the plant in an inorganic or mineralized form.

In the case of nitrogen, microbial activity will eventually cause slow denitrification while excess water will leach some nitrogen out of the root zone.  Therefore, more nitrogen needs to added depending on the rate of loss.  That can be achieved by growing green manures such as legumes (beans and peas) that have a symbiosis with bacteria that actually fix nitrogen into the soil from the atmosphere.  When those crops are turned into the soil, the process of mineralization and denitrification starts all over again.  In lieu of the green manures many of us just add compost or other plant-based amendments such as leaf mold compost, alfalfa or okara.  These plant-based amendments will also add other nutrients like phosphorous that will not be lost to the atmosphere but have their own specific cycles in the soil/plant environment.  The best gardens are ones that develop good fertility over time such that new additions of compost and other amendments replace the elements lost through harvest.

Even when focusing on long-term soil development, there are times when we get it wrong and the plants starve because we intercepted the soil nutrient cycles at the wrong time.  In those cases, readily available nutrients must be added to the soil to assure good plant growth.  At our micro-farm we keep alfalfa tea brewing for that purpose.  We also use very small amounts of synthetic fertilizers occasionally.   One teaspoon of 10-10-10 goes a long way on young seedlings.  When small amounts of synthetic fertilizer are applied to soils rich in organic matter and healthy microbial activity the whole system is enhanced.  The negative side of synthetic fertilizer is obvious but when directly compared to blood and bone meals and fish emulsions the synthetic fertilizers have less environmental impact.

Like you, we have a strategy for long-term soil fertility that will eventually eliminate need for any emergency inputs.  FYI we add soybean meal directly to the soil and take all other plant waste from the field and kitchen directly to the compost heap.

For those able to travel to Grass Valley, Greg will be giving a free introductory course on veganic farming at Animal Place on Tuesday, June 5, 6:30-8:30pm.

Do the best you can…

“Do the best you can in the place that you are, and be kind.”  – Scott Nearing

Helen and Scott Nearing’s “Living the Good Life: How to Live Sanely and Simply in a Troubled Word”, inspired me to change my life.  Fleeing a Depression-ridden New York City in 1932, the intellectual Nearings created the ultimate DIY project in rural Vermont; they created a small maple sugar business on their hand-built homestead, grew their own food using mindful farming techniques, and promoted peace in their community and all over the world with their books and public speaking engagements.  They inspired thousands in a back-to-the-land movement that began in the 60s and has resurged today with the small organic farms that are popping up seemingly everywhere, including our backyard micro-farm at Animal Place.

Living the Good Life

The book that inspired me to take up veganic farming and live more simply.

Scott was labeled a radical not only for his activism for peace, but for his outspoken opposition to the child labor that was rampant in his time.  In the spirit of my hero, a fellow vegetarian, I propose something equally incredulous in our time:  let’s put an end to the rampant slavery of animals, who, like children, cannot defend themselves from whatever cruelty we impose.

But I’m already vegan.  What about the farmers?  Are they doing their best?

Eat local.  Eat vegetables.  From popular books like the Omnivore’s Dilemma, and blockbusters like Food, Inc., consumers know what they are supposed to do, though I think both of these resources underestimate what our “best” could be.  If you haven’t gone vegan yet, there are plenty of educational materials to help you on your journey, and I hope that you begin today.  Check out the totally accessible 30-day Vegan Challenge from Oakland’s darling Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.  Do your best…for you, for the planet, and for all beings on this planet.

Even if you are already vegan, more than likely there are feathers, bones, blood and other animal atrocities in your kale, turnips and tomatoes.  Whether you buy your organic produce from Whole Foods, the local co-op or farmer’s markets, there are dead animals in the compost, fertilizer and potting mixes used to grow those seemingly kind foods.

Attending a soil class at a local, organic supply store – the popular Peaceful Valley Garden Supply, to name names – the educator told our group of young organic farmers that bat guano was not sustainable and no good farmer should ever use it.  In the next breath, she turned our attention to the store catalog for her all-time favorite fertilizer: fish emulsion.  In her opinion, it’s sustainable to use (and make a profit from) the byproducts of the diabolical fishing industry, even if it ravages our oceans in the process.  This is how the next generation of farmers that will grow your fruits and vegetables are being educated.

In simple terms, three of the most important nutrients that plants need to grow are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, or N-P-K.  While most organic farmers feed their soils with animal products, there are kinder, more sustainable products and methods that provide these ingredients which do not enslave animals or destroy aquatic life.  The North American Vegetarian Society’s article about plant-based agriculture gives a great introductory to veganic farming.  For the nitty gritty details, I’ve just started reading Iain Tollhurst’s Growing Green about stock-free farming in the UK using green manures and crop rotation.

Our mission at the Animal Place micro-farm is to create a successful and sustainable farm using only plant-based inputs.  This will serve as a model for other farmers, most importantly our neighbors who are using and promoting the use of animal products.

But I’m not a farmer.  What more can I do?

It downright sucks that there are so few options for us when it comes to buying stock-free produce.  Like Scott says, just do the best you can in the place that you are:

  • Ask the growers at your farmer’s market to offer stock-free products.  You may have to educate them about what this means to you and our planet.
  • Tell the hobby gardeners in your social circle to use plant-based amendments and techniques; Google “veganic farming”.
  • Help us establish our veganic farm at Animal Place through volunteering or donation.  Or, though few in number, support a veganic farm near you.
  • and be kind.
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