IPBN Newsletter 2001 – Vol 12

IPBN Newsletter 2001 – Vol 12




Veganic-organic agriculture has been practiced for thousands of years.  It is a tradition deserving massive implementation in all gardening efforts and many if not most large scale commercial human food production endeavors.  The concept seems almost too simple:  growing edible plants in healthy toxin free soils enriched with compost of rotted plant materials, ground rock powders, and seaweeds to provide minerals and water without added chemicals or biological contaminants.  These easily applied natural and scientific crop rotation practices can make a world of difference in terms of improving produce quality and perhaps they can also improve air and water quality globally while nourishing people better than ever before.

Green leafy food plants are healing as well as disease preventive.  Their nutritional supremacy is undeniable.  Scientific research validates the virtues of edible plants and their many components.  Little research, however, illuminates the connections between healthful food plants and healthy soils.  There is a gap here.  Much research has advocated chemical agriculture since the 1940s, but veganic-organic food plant production has received little attention and human health has suffered accordingly.  It is time to openly redress the imbalance and restore real human food, appropriate growing procedures and standards under the banner of veganagro – a plant-based agriculture for plant-based nutrition.

Modern agriculture has been very successful in terms of increased productivity, large-scale production efficiency and profitability.  It has developed massive organizations to attend to the specialized production of chemicals, equipment, seeds, transplants, soil supplements, fertilizers, water management, pesticides, growth monitoring, harvesting, packaging, distribution, wholesale and retail marketing and financial management.  There has never been such variety and availability of fresh and processed foods worldwide.  Neither have there been so many people with so much wealth and such poor physical activity patterns and dietary habits.  More has not meant better, nor has cheaper been necessarily better.  Nevertheless, much has been learned – positive and negative – and humankind is now on the far side of this era.  Time to change.  Possible to change.

Support exists for change which can bring benefits of toxicity free foods which are truly healthful.  With all the wealth that has accrued, many people can afford to make better choices.  Current market trends indicate that people are making better choices, many today and there will be more tomorrow.  This is a bad time to be growing and selling poor quality produce stale and dirty, preserved in rusty cans, frozen and refrozen and presented surrounded by ice crystals concealed in plastic bags which don’t feel right, or dried and moldy.  Consumers are more knowledgeable and

are demanding cleaner, fresher, better-looking produce.  A few are realizing that the next criteria appropriate to apply are:  healthier, more nutritious and bearing less toxicity.  When these questions are asked, it is time for veganic-organic food production and scientific research explaining how and why this veganic mode is more healthful for individuals, families, society, the economy, and environment.

This upgrading is occurring as farmers learn to use less chemical fertilizers and pesticides – to save their own lives and careers.  Tolerance for “organic” produce is high at the moment and intense  consumer demand creates economic opportunities for whomever will serve this need and desire for improved quality foods.  It is just a matter of time, however, until the many realize that officially defined “organic” production methodologies are code for smiling while selling feedlot and slaughterhouse waste products under the guise of “all natural” and “non-chemical” and “sustainable” agriculture.  Truly all natural, toxic chemical-free and therefore sustainable food production is veganic – and of course – organic.  Who instead actually prefers mammalian manure over veganic organic compost, pulverized dead chicken fertilizer over mined nitrate and phosphorous and potassium and other essential trace minerals, or cow blood and bone over rotted leaves and bark?  Who?  Whomever happens to have on hand a supply of dead chicken puree, roadkill, blood, bone, skin and hair to get rid of legally; for these waste managers, refiners and distributors, “organicagro” is an opportunity.  There is profit in selling feedlot and slaughterhouse wastes.  For those who shudder at these indelicate descriptions and knowingly prefer veganagro produce, hope is here and help is on the way.       

Hidden in the archives of America’s great land grant university libraries, but typically slighted by contemporary inquirers, are research reports tucked away over the past century and a half which document the virtues of veganic organic agriculture in precise detail.  Go to the University of Georgia, for example and find research reports indicating that composted leaves and barks contain more nitrogen per unit than cow manure, and with fewer pathogens.  At the University of Wisconsin uncover the research reports correlating bovine effluent with diseases, manures with plant blights and processes for condensing farm wastes profitably, then look for pro-veganagro studies which may not have been widely circulated.  Visit University of California agricultural libraries and field research sites to discover descriptions of nutritious food plants which thrive without industrial chemical interventions.  And don’t forget New York’s Cornell University libraries where enough studies to support veganagro for decades are stashed away waiting for release and dissemination.  The United States Department of Agriculture Library and research sites centered at Greenbelt, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C. is a treasure trove of resource materials and living scientists filled with knowledge supporting the practicalities and rationalities of veganagro.  Finally, inquire about that no longer in print USDA Bulletin of 1935, give or take a few years, in which photographs and research-based text confirmed that plants grown in earthworm rich soils are stronger, more resistant to diseases and insects, and bear more and better fruits.  Even the potted tomatoes grown in soils enriched with dead pulverized earthworm matter outproduced those grown with no earthworm content at all.  If anyone puts forward a study suggesting that mammalian manures positively affect growing plants, insist that no earthworms can be present to contaminate the results.  And it should be kept in mind that concentrated chemicals typically reduce and can eliminate earthworm populations in soils.  Rotted plant materials transformed scientifically into nutrient rich composts, along with earthworm manures and worm engineered soil structuring, have valiantly passed all the tests of time.  They simply work well and benefit the whole earth.   It is just a matter of time before these truth storing bubbles are burst and the aggro game shifts still closer toward veganagro ideals.   

Meanwhile, growing one’s own and buying from nearby veganic agricultural producers are practical strategies for meeting personal food preferences, keeping out of the fraying contaminant redistribution systems and enjoying the good life already while others are finding their ways.  It does not require genius or great resources to construct and plant an idyllic veganic garden.  To show how simple this can be, IPBN has established a variety of small demonstration gardens where veganic organic soils and plants are producing truly nutritious and beautiful bounty.

On a minute scale, understanding that small can be beautiful as well as more productive, IPBN Demonstration Garden sites from Pennsylvania to California have set examples of amazing productivity using techniques rooted in ancient human agriculture.  In a space merely five by twenty feet, using raised beds filled with caringly blended soils surrounded on three sides by stone walls and open to sunlight only half a day from above and afternoons from the west, thirty-three vegetables and small fruits with twenty-seven herb plants have been grown annually since 1998 in, on and above this one hundred square feet space in the backyard of a rowhouse in a low-income neighborhood of Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.  From April through November, over three years, this intensely cropped plot has produced leaves, fruits, flowers, seeds, stems, stalks, and roots enough for a family of three to five at a low cost requiring little capital, few tools and very little labor.  It has been a glorious garden suffering neither weeds, diseases or pests.

Yes, there have been leaves that wilted and a few insects have appeared.  Just not many.  Bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa and insects can be found wherever plants grow.  Here they have eaten well, but not much.   A friendly garden snake and birds have done all the work of keeping this garden clean of pests.  No neighbors have either destroyed or taken anything as was predicted by pessimists, and though few have copied any of the ideas – none have rejected free produce offered to them at their respective doors and numerous children have beamed while carrying home small samples of homegrown fresh produce for their parents to use in family meals.

So many have inquired so frequently that a review of the architecture of IPBN Demonstration Garden One warrants review.  There are four beds made of four boxes, each two by ten feet and constructed of two by twelve inch untreated yellow pine boards.  Inside and out, these were brushed with two coats of linseed oil at the beginning and after three years they appear as solid as at the start.  Metal screws fasten these boxes.  In a stone and cement boundary area, these four boxes were set end on end as two rows, each two feet wide, with a one foot wide walk space between them.  Across the two upper surfaces of the inner walls of these boxes, a short board was lain to move about and enable one to sit while planting and harvesting.  This movable seat has been a joy for everyone who has sat upon it.  And in the workspace twenty-seven pots of herbs have been placed most of the time so as to use every inch productively.  String trellis nets cover the east stone wall, a high wire mesh trellis covers the north wall, these is chest-high chain link fencing on the west side and a concrete step and abutment on the south has plants growing in pots along this ledge.  Throughout the garden are fiberglass poles with vining plants growing up them and six spiral steel rods five feet high which support tomato plants climbing up toward the noontime sun.  The soil in these growing boxes is a blend of local clay, bags of “kiddie play” sand, Canadian peat moss, Pennsylvania calcium rich ground limestone, Florida phosphate rock powder, New Jersey potassium rich greensand, Utah “desert minerals” from ancient dry lakes presumed to contain every mineral in the seas, handfuls of sulphur possibly from Louisiana, kelp granules from seaweeds hand harvested by Larch Hansen off Maine shores, bags of homemade compost carrying along one hundred African origin earthworms from the IPBN home base hardwood tree, forest edge berry and worm sanctuary six miles south.

The ancient veganagro practices?  Planting close, letting taller plants shade smaller, de-leafing from ground up – eating a little every day – as the plants develop and thinning is needed, growing down (radishes) then up (kale) then down (carrots) then up (chard) to harmoniously accommodate root vegetables and those which develop largely above ground.  Ancient wisdom?  It appears probable that human ancestors ate foods while picking, immediately the following picking and ate whatever was thriving each particular day.  Testing this concept, IPBN gardeners, and friends who pick and eat reason that maximum nutrition is likely to be available at the instant of picking.  If this is a principle, research can verify its validity and the obvious message will be that whoever can grow something themselves to eat a little of every day.  If only one leaf from a potted spearmint plant plucked and eaten on a winter morning, this practice may have benefits not previously observed or described in plant-based nutrition literature.  Another ancient practice revived and restated as a veganagro principle is eating local produce in season.  Veganagro is as it has always been:  simple and easily practiced and well as healthful for humans.

Plants grown have included: arugula, basil, beans, beets, bok choy, chard, celery, chives, broccolis, cabbages, carrots, chamomille,  chervil, cilantro, cucumbers, dandelions, daikon, dills, endives, fennel, garlic, horseradish, kales, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuces, lovage, marigolds, michili – Chinese cabbage, mints, nasturtiums, oreganos, okra, onions, parsleys, parsnips,  peas, penny royal, peppers – green and red and large and small – and hot and mild, red radish, sages, scallions, sorrel, squashes, Swiss chard, tomatoes, thyme, turnips, yarrow and others slighted now by having been forgotten.  Not kind to earth or space conserving, soil fertility depleting corn was left to others with acreage to spare and bought cheap as desired.  Last summer potatoes were grown under half shade in half barrels donated by a garden store which has supplied plants for this demonstration garden.  If small, these tubers were nevertheless quite delicious even raw.  Planted in late June of 1999 these plants were prolific producers.  In rough terms, the pound of potato pieces planted produced three to five pounds of whole potatoes with no blight or imperfections.  This first IPBN demonstration garden has been bounteous.  In its fourth year, it has been moved to a second home at a food bank.

A third-year enhancement in Spring 1999 was the utilization of a space adjacent to the first garden and westward over the chainlink fence.  This advancement, actually IPBN Demonstration Garden Four, was allowed by the next door neighbor who has thus far been pleased by its beauty and practicality as well as the plentiful produce it has provided during the first and second years.  This one-foot wide strip garden is fifty feet long – fifty square feet of planting space.  It is separated from the lawn by one inch thick boards four inches wide laid flat which were found in the adjacent alleyway.  There was no money for soil supplements so homemade compost was brought in and nearly empty bags of minerals were shaken clean over this skinny long planting bed.  No peat moss or sand was added.  And here last year grew the finest bok choy and broccoli ever seen.  When snow fell in January cabbages and kale were huge and thriving.  This year a greater variety of plants is being grown, using outdated leftover seeds scattered randomly, and the best word to describe them at midsummer is flourishing.

Either or both of these gardens could be covered various ways for earlier and later harvests.  IPBN Garden One was translucent fabric covered from November through January the first season and this eleven dollars unwoven polyester fiber cloth kept a good bit of cold out, retained sun heat a bit longer each day blew off so many times that it was finally abandoned and thus far not reused.  More careful planting and re-planting to fill in harvested spaces could easily increase productivity by fifty percent.  In 1999, tomatoes were grown up the wire trellis ten feet above ground; they could be grown twenty to thirty feet high if the trellis was extended.  There are probably some excellent soil supplements, biochemical and microbial, which could significantly increase yields.  More careful watering and pruning and tying of plants to trellises and stakes, more hanging baskets filled with nasturtiums and marigolds and mints, perhaps several small espaliered fruit trees, figs and rhubarb in tubs, strawberry barrels and raspberry pots could further enhance this Garden of Eden in Conshohocken and feed still more even better.  As it is, though, this hundred square feet plot is sufficient and excellent and amazingly prolific.  Those who eat from it claim, without prompting that “This food tastes better.” and none have departed without a smile and promise to grow something edible and share it with others whenever opportunities appear.

A few miles west of IPBNDG One, in 1998, a nice lady offered to convert her recently acquired small rowhouse backyard into IPBN Demonstration Garden Two and it was another flourishing success.  Full sun all day here.  The first summer she fed fifty-five people in twenty-five families and had an extra four hundred dollars in the jar on the porch at season’s end.  Bounty beyond measure.  There wasn’t money for much soil supplementation beyond a bale of peat moss.  Chopped weeds collecting as the area was prepared for planting became the homemade free compost.  No worms were brought in, the soil was dug and forked and then planted as it was – mostly clay with a little sandiness and humus from the roots of grass and weeds.  Here she grew butternut squash on and old string net draped from the crossbars of her clothesline pole.  Lots of butternut squash, and perfect fruits.  Arugula also performed exceptionally and she became a master teacher of tomato vine pruning techniques.  Even the poison ivy growing on adjacent chainlink fences thrived, calling attention to itself and motivating neighbors to come out and remove it.  All in all, this has been a wonderful garden.

Next call, also in 1998, was a volunteer in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania who wished to plant IPBN Demonstration Garden Three on a backyard slope.  She wanted to try the “lasagna method” of layering compost on top of the ground and depending on biological processes to carry nutrition down into the soil rendering it accessible to plant roots.  She also wished to implement the “one square foot method” whereby wooden boundaries separate ground into patches twelve by twelve inches.  And so she did, aided by husband and children and observed by neighbors gathered in groups discussing this experiment and its possibilities for success and failure.  None, of course, volunteered to help though after productivity commenced none refused gift produce and the bounty has continued over three summers presenting a variety of weather disasters to which this garden has responded valiantly without dying, shriveling or suffering greatly from pathogen or predator invasions.  It might be said that plants want to live and cleverly do despite diverse thwartings from nature and people.  Once again, veganic agriculture has been tested and survived.

IPBN Demonstration Garden Four is the one foot by fifty-foot strip garden adjacent to the west of IPBNDG One and described earlier.  Over two years it has produced bounteously requiring minimal care – perhaps three hours the first year and two hours the second.  Vegan agro is not expensive, difficult, complicated or problematic in any way.  It is instead, simply wonderful.

In Anaheim, California, at a small residential mental health clinic where staff has manifested interest in psychological benefits of veganic organic gardening, IPBN Demonstration Garden Five was planted in Spring 2000.  Its first annual report will be due when Winter Solstice arrives and the gardeners look back on their implementation.  These friends were about to embark on a large effort, bite off more than they could chew, and were urged in the mildest psychotherapeutic manner to start small, take it easy and have fun.

Someone somewhere near Detroit, Michigan, is experimenting with IPBN Demonstration Garden techniques.  There’s another friend of plant-based nutrition experimenting in Boulder, Colorado.  Letters suggest similar efforts are underway in Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand.

A greater than great, all-time best, super colossal TRANSITIONAL VEGANAGRO DEMONSTRATION GARDEN – shifting from imported bagged cow manure to on-site composted leaves can be found northward in Canada on an unpaved back road near Cardiff in Ontario.  Distant hills and surrounding forest seem smaller than this Garden of Eden.  An acre?  It appears vast, a sea of green on gently sloping land behind the homestead of 87 year old Ron and Dorothy Young who drink from their own well, heat their self-built house with a woodburning cookstove and use an outdoor toilet.  Here are the finest people to be found anywhere.  Debt free pure souls surviving handily on the fruits of their own labor.  Plant-based nutrition serving heroes and beautiful models for survivalists at the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st century.  Dorothy bakes fresh bread every day and Ron never tires of eating it along with their home canned produce.  She uses white flour which he claims “has never hurt” him and pledges to eat it until he dies.  Their storage spaces are filled with homegrown produce of diverse sorts, surpluses age given away – and they have many friends.  The Youngs do have electricity, and an automatic oil burning heater for use when they are away from home in winter.   They can drive.  There is a television set, but it is less prominent than the foot-treadle sewing machine which keeps Dorothy busy in winter.   Ron makes small wooden replicas of creatures common in the area and perennially mulches the family garden plot using a Rototiller of some vintage.  It is a veganagro system which demonstrably works, and wonderfully well.  Standing mid-summer amidst soy beans and other vigorous plants Ron can barely be seen.  Weeds are no problem, nor insects, nor plant diseases.  And Ron and Dorothy themselves appear strong and vigorous.  Their eyes twinkle.  They are agile, climbing stairs with flexibility and poise.  Hard work and passing years have been good to them.  And they know how to grow food.  Nowhere are there more honorable and delightful people, enjoyable to visit and decent to remember.  Neighbors and other observers see that Ron and Dorothy Young enjoy life, make the best of it and continually have fun .  Sweethearts deserving praise and emulation tending a developing veganic organic food production plot in paradise under the glorious Northern Lights.     

Dozens of others have inquired about setting up IPBN Demonstration Gardens.  All have been encouraged to “Just do it.”  In the District of Columbia and Ontario, New Jersey, New Mexico and elsewhere, many have reported on their already successful organic and veganic organic gardens and crop plantings.  There are great examples of this strategy all over Britain, Greece, New Zealand, maybe now in Egypt, Australia and undoubtedly elsewhere.

Several organizations are promulgating veganagro concepts and no negative results have been reported to IPBN thus far.  In the United Kingdom and globally, VOHAN stands out as exceptionally clear mined and effective.  VOHAN members are in Australia, Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, New Zealand, Nigeria, Portugal, Sierra Leone, Spain, Sweden and elsewhere advocating and demonstrating veganagro under whatever local conditions prevail.  Based at Anandavan, 58 High Lane, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9DZ United Kingdom, VOHAN anchors The Vegan Organic Network by conducting human scale experimental farming and gardening projects.  “Green Clean Cruelty-Free Ethical Food Production” is the aim.  VOHAN supplies a vegan logo which producers of vegan products may use in advertising and promote veganagro produce and manufactured products.  The VOHAN website at www.veganvillage.co.uk provides regular updates on veganagro affairs and VOHAN NEWS is available quarterly in hardcopy format.  TEL/FAX:  0161 860 4869   EMAIL:  vohan@net-work.co.uk and  KNOWLEDGE SHARE:  vegan-organic@listbot.com.  IPBN is linked with, supportive of and learns from VOHAN.

Neither nationally or internationally is there any single set of procedures for certifying veganic organic food production.  No known governmental agencies anywhere either cite or acknowledge or supervise veganagro per se.   In the United States, it would be very efficient were the already well-organized third-party organic certification organizations to add a category for  veganagro.  Without realizing it, these already are certifying some veganic organic producers, but lump them in with non-veganic organic producers and do not differentiate between plant-based veganic organic and large creature based organic soils and food plant growing systems. In California, during March, 2000, at an exhibit of an organic certification organization, an IPBN observer asked whether any farmer was perhaps veganic – and explained what that would mean.  She’d “never heard of such” and assured that not one farmer in California “would” or “could afford” to try these “expensive” strategies.  Alas, for her, there was an old farmer sitting listening, sun burnt and wrinkled with field labor gnarled hands.  The observer turned to this man who had his head down and asked “Have you ever heard of one?”  He turned his head upward and replied “Sure.  There are lots of them.  Me.  We still farm just like out fathers and grandfathers and we don’t use any chemicals or manures.”   It would seem, then, that veganagro – while the term and its underlying veganic organic sustainable premise – is a reliable procedure which is in fact already underway and nothing new.  How now to spread it so that all can enjoy the manifold benefits of truly natural toxicity free whole foods lovingly grown, picked, packaged, delivered, prepared and served daily at every table?


Manure discomforts people.  Excrement is embarrassing.  Few wish to discuss it.  Yet the word has broader connotations than current popular usage allows.  Manure makes the world go around so far as plants are concerned.  It is important to get people to think about, discuss and accept manures.  By no means are they only one kind.  Manuring involves a greater variety of applications than just the spreading of commercial excrement.  Indeed, none of that is needed.  None at all.  According to Webster’s Universal College Dictionary (New York:  Gramercy, 1997), manure is “any natural or artificial substance for fertilizing the soil.”  In “An Essay on Calcareous Manures”  by Edmund Ruffin  in The American Farmer (Petersburg, Virginia:  1821), this early farmer-scientist author first reported on the classification of soils as predominately siliceous, aluminaceous or calcareous and suggested that whatever is lacking in one can be added from the others.  He experimented with additions of calcareous materials to soils considered calcium deficient and reported significant improvements in crop production.  Ruffin’s view was that between 1821 when he first published his essay and 1829 when he re-issued it as a monograph booklet “the use of fossil shells as a manure has greatly increased, in my own neighborhood [of Virginia] and elsewhere.”  (Page 5 of 1829 publication)  Composted plant materials are manures, ground rock powders are manures and so are the fecal and urinary products of all creatures.  Vegans do not use manures obtained involuntarily from creatures or from sources which put the planet at risk.  Some vegans will not use any manures from chemical factories or live creatures.  But ecology requires that all matter decompose and one way or another such materials find their way into even the most careful food production.  Who screens out insect feces from soil or can prevent birds from dropping deposits as they will?  And if long dead dinosaur remains may be refined into oil and gasoline on the premise that “We didn’t kill them or have anything to do with their lifecycles.” Isn’t it acceptable to mine and grind calcareous shells deposited in ancient seas and manure vegan food plants with the powders?  Isn’t most any dust on earth laden with life and remnants of life including excreta?  Veganagro must use manures, but need not have anything to do with those involuntarily donated by suffering creatures or their post-slaughterhouse remains.       

Manures, whatever their substance or source, are intended as soil improvers added to grow more and better food plants.  It’s not just the addition of granite dust or silica powder which enlivens soils and plants.  Uncountable microbes, tiny bacteria and fungi and protozoa are in every soil, and manuring activates and feeds them so they will excrete manures which fertilize plant life.  Soil architecture hosts a web of life which is beautiful and little understood.  IPBN hosts an earthworm sanctuary where staff have learned with awe over 23 years about soil building and are only beginning to comprehend that they never will fully understand its complexities.  In past centuries others have been curious regarding manures and these have included Mohandas K. Gandhi a student of manures in India, Sir Albert Howard a British student of manures, Leo Tolstoy a Russian student of manures, J. I. Rodale an American student of manures, and Scott and Helen Nearing who were pioneer students of veganic-organic composted plant based manures.   There have been many others.  None of them have used the term veganagro, but their works support its contemporary applications and current research is establishing its long intuited scientific basis.    

Last century Rudolph Steiner in Germany developed a “biodynamic” agriculture based on some sound observations and thinking about how to produce healthful foods.  He was absolutely correct that the guts of creatures produce manures which have wonderful properties and that manured food plants thrive.  He had no idea, though, of the industrial scale of manure production which would develop during the 20th century.  A modern feedlot and slaughterhouse would surely appall and cause rethinking of his premises.  Herr Steiner did not know of bacteria and viruses and fungi and protozoa.  Louis Pasteur had not yet developed or demonstrated the concept of germ.  Nor did Steiner realize that earthworm castings contain no live pathogens; that is worm guts – which by the way contain grinding stones such as sand particles – and colons destroy harmful pathogens in soils and neutralize some undesirable chemicals.  Manure is good.  Fecal matter – some more than other – can be a joy to behold and thoroughly natural nutrient for edible plants.  With all due respect to Steiner’s manure consciousness, Chinese, Indians, Persians, Africans and Native Americans had already been aware of the dung virtues for thousands of years.  Despite this, Steiner advanced healthful food production immeasurably and his principles contain truths important and useful today.  When it comes to human excrement, however, no one can compete with Gandhi’s lifelong experiments with outdoor communal toilet technologies yet preserved at his South India homestead – and trials using it as nourishment for plants.  A veganagro explanation of how to be true to biodynamic principles describes composted hay, leaves, barks and other green and brown – nitrogenous and carbonaceous – vegetative matter as manure rich.  What else is compost but biologically active decomposition of botanical and non-botanical materials.  It is absolutely full of worm feces and broken down defecation from the millions of small lifeforms which inhabit and complete their life cycles in compost.  The bodies of deceased compost dwellers are present in rotting form and digested as small creature excrement and if the compost is alive, microorganisms galore abound.  Therefore, Herr  Steiner, may worm, centipede, millipede and similar dungs along with continually fresh defecation from living microorganisms be counted as biodynamic manures?  These fellow creatures and other helpful lifeforms are so much more willingly efficient than the involuntarily offered and inefficiently gathered manures of large and huge creatures.  Is this not a major advantage of veganagro?  Might this conceptual bridge win hearts and hands of committed biodynamic food producers?  Gandhian?  An adjustment of biodynamic rationales blended with Gandhian philosophy and ethically phrased as veganagro principles might be widely helpful as produce producers adapt to the reality that nineteenth century slaughterhouse agriculture cannot go on as it has if human health is a concern.

Before this industrial-chemical-technological  hurricane overtook natural farming and gardening in the twentieth century, birds and bats were friends of growers who built structures which enticed them and allowed their freely offered manures to be collected and used on the site, in situ, as fertilizers.  Bats and birds eat insects, digest and excrete them.  Owls eat rodents and excrete their remains.    Bats and birds eat insects and subsequently deposit fresh fertilizer where they will – usefully for plants and if they are not in rhythm with nature sometimes annoyingly for plant growers.  A proper medieval, renaissance, colonial period and early nationalism era garden or farm would typically host birds and bats, welcome owls and vultures as their respective services were needed.

Some old farm houses and barns have bird perches mounted high on their walls where birds could rest, scan for insects and contribute manure if they pleased.  Bat houses and owl perches are nothing new, their use too is ancient.  Bats and birds unobtrusively fertilize and control insects.  So do their reptile cousins garden snakes and turtles.

After World War Two Israelis perfected a reforestation technique which spread to Central America and is continually used today.  Tree seedlings in a desert must be watered and fertilized else they will die.  Forests became deserts through processes and so Israeli foresters determined to discover how to reverse these processes and grow trees again.  They observed that once a tree seedling develops a small trunk and branches birds appear and sit on these horizontal limbs.  Sooner or later they excrete moisture containing watery feces and these both irrigate and nourish the plant.  Simple?  It’s veganagro, whatever others call it.  Practical?  Scientific?  All of these and more.  It’s sensible and worthy of reflection and emulation.

Is bird manure acceptable in veganagro?  That depends on how it has been contributed to the cause and whether it is needed.  Lovely edible plants can be grown using only rotted plant based compost to nurture the soil.  Scott and Helen Nearing at Forest Farm in Harborside, Maine demonstrated this over many decades without failure.  They never lost a crop.  Cave and island deposits of bat and bird excrement have been used around the world for thousands of years.  Is the source local or distant?  Transportation tolerance might be a veganagro issue.  A garden will have insects which will attract birds and bats and few will prefer covering the planting to keep insects in and birds – along with their droppings – out.  But bird dung from the South Pacific may be undesirable as well as unnecessary at a northern latitude.  Bluebird and bat houses seem to meet the greatest degree of harmlessness criterion which veganagro espouses and strives to achieve.     

Finally, as long as the topic of excrement is being considered, is it ethical for a vegan to use personal manure, well composted certainly, along with worm castings and rotting plant debris?  This issue has been debated half a century in Ireland and the latest reports indicate that some do, some don’t, and its right to tell whether one does or doesn’t.  Manure discussions can discomfort, “humanure” debates rarely attract much of a crowd, nevertheless, manure is a biological reality and its appropriate utilization should be systematically addressed in any agriculture including veganagro.

Researchers today should be studying food plants grown without involuntary inputs from fellow creatures.  Voluntarily contributed in situ worm castings are nitrogen rich and pathogen free.  There is a message from nature in this.  Large mammal manures are excessively nitrogenous and neither chemical or pathogen free.  Cow cultures destroy forests and cow manure and urine will quickly kill plants grown for human food unless they are laboriously and expensively dehumidified and composted with plant matter and then sterilized to kill weed seeds.  There is no practical way to completely decontaminate their toxic chemical, antibacterial and other biological contents, nor is there any scientifically demonstrated requirement plants have for bovine manure and urine.  Neither is horse, sheep, goat or other mammalian manure essential to plant growth.  There is a message for consumers in this.  At this time in history, authorized and certified organic agriculture is actually a manifestation of slaughterhouse culture and not veganic in most contemporary cases.  Here and there, old and young veganic organic food producers exist and are thriving.  They just won’t go along with the majority and deserve consumers’ appreciation and maximum support.  Their intuitive veganagro is the better way if healthfulness of planet, water, air, soil, plant, economy and consumers are concerns.  Veganagro is a system centered on well-being.  At least it deserves a chance to be tested scientifically and the tiny IPBN Demonstration Gardens and others developed as educational centers in the same spirit have pointed the ways.  These ways are opportune for human health and veganomic entrepreneurialism globally.  Shout is loud and often so all can hear:  veganagro.


Too few sprinkle fresh rose petals on their salads or marigold petals on casseroles.  Very few eat the flower, leaf, and stem of either nasturtium or daylilies.  This is unfortunate and to improve the situation, this IPBN listing of edible flowers is offered to entice readers to try these delicacies and communicate any others they know about.  As with any food, flowers ought to be tried first in small quantity to determine if there are any unpleasant tastes or aftereffects.  To be experimental, a serving of plain lettuce with one type of flower and a glass of water would provide a scientific test.  In the main, the following will be found to be delicious and very pleasant on the palate.  Regrettably, no nutrition research is known which uses edible flowers as independent variables.  Maybe someday.  Leaves, fruits, seeds, and pollens have enjoyed positive attention from researchers.  Edible flowers in nutrition is an untapped field for adventurous explorers.  For chefs and home cooks, however, edible flowers used in food servings result in rave reviews and immediate success.  Veganagro entrepreneurs are needed to develop edible flower production and distribution systems.  The future appears bright for those who would grow, sell and eat flowers.      

IPBN maintains a file of lists of edible flowers and it is expanding.  Until all these lists can be combined in a booklet for PBN readers, here is one listing from pages 80-81 of the Spring-Summer 1996 issue of COOK’S CATALOG:  Agastache, anise, arugula, basil, broccoli, borage, calendula,  catnip, chamomille, chrysanthemum, dianthus, hollyhock, lavender, lemon balm, marigold, nasturtium, peas (not sweet pea.), purslane, salvia (also termed clary.), scented geraniums, squash blossoms, violas, violets and runner bean.

An obvious caution is to beware of flowers from unknown sources.  No one should buy supermarket roses and eat the petals or consume any other flowers from possibly chemically and biologically contaminated growing and handling situations.  Here again, veganagro standards can save the day and all others seem less safe.  Grow your own, share with veganagro principled friends, buy from demonstrably veganagro growers as near to home as possible.

An opportunity for veganagro standard edible flower production and marketing seems just as obvious and this could be lucrative for supermarkets which serve the people well with real foods.


Edible flower pollen can be good food and sometimes medicine.  Saffron is an example of a useful, edible and nutritious pollen.  It is picked by hand from fall flowering crocuses.  Quite another  substance, “bee propolis” is touted as healthful on the basis of research actually centered on pollen.  Here is another instance of the misuse of association and not-sequester to persuade consumers.  Research on health effects of pollen does not transfer to other products.  Bee and other insect fallout may indeed contain pollen, and so may rodent hair and bird feces.  Pollen gathered directly from plant flower pistils is consistent in quality whereas “propolis” is a waste product bees preen off their bodies before entering the home base hive. Its qualities depend on waxy exfoliation and incidentally collected accumulations of dust and various other substances prevalent in the surrounding areas.  Bees consciously collect pollen for their genetic family’s survival, but unintentionally bring home debris on their bodies which are ritually shed before entering the home.  Scientific research on pollens and their effects on human health are accessible though research on “propolis” per se is wanting.  Pollen and “propolis” are not comparable.  If one is healthful it does not follow that the other is or may be.  “Propolis” is simply bee offal and a cash commodity by-product of the bee regurgitation sweetener industry.  Truth demands logic and honesty.


This is the 26th year of good works for the New Hope group of educator entrepreneurs based in Boulder, Colorado.  Every year they get better.  Their shows are awesome, and once again IPBN volunteers will be sharing plant-based nutrition education information – where there is interest –  among the several thousand commercial exhibitors and  35-40,000 health food store operator attendees at both the Natural Products EXPO EAST in Baltimore, Maryland, Convention Center, September 21-24, 2000, and EXPO WEST in the Anaheim, California Convention Center, March 8-11, 2001.  New Hope Communications staff created and progressively re-creates the genre.  They initiated and annually conduct these and other state-of-the-art, industry developing and educational expositions in North America and Europe each year.  Sooner or later, this aggressive ahead-of-the-curve team will be in Asia, Australia and Latin America and truly global.  The healthful food industry is international and global.  To survive in this exciting advancing domain quality and integrity are first principles, expanding nationally, regionally and globally are essential strategies.  New Hope Communications is a wholesome wave helping innumerable producer and consumer surfers move forward ecstatically.  Their contributions cannot be overstated.  They were first in the field and there are none better.  TEL:  303-939-8440  WEBSITES: www.newhope.com www.naturalproductexpo.com


Copies of Dietary Guidelines 2000 can be obtained from the United States Department of Agriculture Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, 1120 20th Street N.W., Suite 200, North Lobby, Washington, D.C. 20036.  Citizen input to the USDA Dietary Guidelines 2005 Committee may be directed to USDA Secretary Dan Glickman or Shanthy Bowman, Ph.D., USDA, Agricultural Research Service,  Nutrient Data Laboratory, Unit 89, Room 6D61, 4700 River Road, Riverdale, Maryland 20737.  They invite and need input, for 2005 is just around the corner.

Critics can claim that no progress has been made, yet these newest federal guidelines explicitly upgrade the position of soy as an excellent nutrient and do remind that high fat and high saturated fat and high transfat intake is not healthy.  Those who drafted these suggestions and commandments wrote what they currently believe and represented the interests which taught and promoted them into these high status positions of authority.  They are fully conscious and knowledgeable actors on an exciting stage across which powerful storms blow.  Over the next five years, before such a group convenes again, more research will come forward to undermine wrong counsel and strengthen good counsel.  Any bad pseudo-nutrition guidelines will be further undermined by steadily accumulating documented scientific evidence explaining why some human feeding practices are unjustifiable.  Among others, the federal dietary guideline authors will be living, eating and reading and visiting doctors and hospitals along with everyone else.  Those among them who remain on the committee, along with the replacements of those who fall by the wayside or pass on, will review past guidelines and perform another ceremonial dance.  Every such pow wow opens the tent flaps just a little bit wider and allows more light in.

The truth is ultimately overpowering, Gandhi taught; this satyagraha or truth power eventually wins hearts.  And no one must follow any guidelines which they do not wish to honor.  Any community school lunch program or other federal feeding system can by-pass federal dietary guidelines by ordering plant-based nutrition commodities and not ordering those which are not plant based.  Authorities can and will approve substitutions of plants for non-plant protein sources, and if it is insisted that certain substances be served it cannot be required that they are eaten.      

In assessing any dietary or nutritional guidelines, the IPBN publication CRITERIA FOR NUTRITIONAL GUIDELINES FOR CENTURY 21 PROPOSED BY THE INSTITUTE FOR PLANT-BASED NUTRITION may be interesting and helpful.  (US$5.00 postpaid mailed first class in a plain envelope anywhere on the planet.)  If these proposed 100 healthfulness criteria are rejected, then it is incumbent upon the rejecters to propose whatever criteria they value and prefer to use.  Operating with covert criteria is unfair and unscientific.  IPBN strives to stimulate dialogue regarding nutritional criteria and suggests that where there are guidelines, then implicit if not explicit criteria have been applied, and either unconsciously or consciously.  Were this not so there would never be any guidelines.  Given the human diversity and global malnutrition affecting both rich and poor, all classes and hues, having no guidelines might not be a more tragic state of affairs.

Ancient humans had criteria for every food choice.  They avoided poisons and stayed away from places, situations, and materials which hurt them.  They were smart or didn’t survive.  There’s an interesting criterion for nutrition:  Does it permit my survival?  Does it enhance my survival?  Will it kill me or support my life?  They were really smart questioners.  Anthropologists find ancient vegan skeletons and other remains around the planet.  These were Pre-Pythagoreans, original and early vegans whose guidelines for nutrition remain evident in their plentiful ancient bones.


It was mango season in Jamaica, long a paradise for fruitarians, vegan raw foodists and others who live gently on the land.  Cherie Soria, Doug Graham, a friend named Habib with a sterling cast of dozens gathered in August at the Negril Hotel to literally eat Carmen Miranda’s hat.  Remember that fruit pyramid adornment she wore in “Dancing Down to Rio”?  It was beautiful and must have been delicious.  These raw foodists gathered and ate and ate and ate….

More seriously, this Caribbean crew took turns teaching lessons and demonstrating raw food preparation techniques for a week in paradise.  Participants relished every raw bite and many came away “changed.”  There are more active raw foodists practicing now and they are proliferating with claims such as “I feel better.” and “My health problems went away.”  Everyone wants to look as good, run as fast, dance as enjoyably and smile as broadly as Dr. Doug Graham who just keeps moving forward.  If these raw foodists didn’t appear so healthy it would be easy to put their message in a box and bury it.  “Raw” is their criterion and “raw” they cry “is good for everyone.”  What if they are right?  Research on cooked versus raw plant based nutrition is needed, still, everyone knows intuitively that raw foods are essential for humans.  Let the ratio be debated.

Who is scientifically researching raw food dietary benefits and problems at the academies?  So many doctors are practicing and advocating this discipline that their obvious healthfulness must be annoying to colleagues who pray that the “raw” bug won’t bite them.      



Ron Pickarskie deserves to be honored.  Words cannot describe how good his food is.  Beautiful.  Wonderful.  Great.  Super.  World Class.  The best.

This happily married, humble and much in demand chef for the 21st century is a champion.

Attendees at the Summer 2000 World Vegetarian Congress meeting in Toronto relished brother Ron’s offerings three meals a day for a full week.  The Colony Hotel kitchen staff which worked with brother Ron will never forget his kindness and patience and simple delicious nutritious recipes.  Food suppliers who have worked with him have been touched and will ever be more conscious of the importance of what they purvey and its quality.

If Ron Pickarskie was head chef for the federal school lunch program, student attendance, and grades would improve while unrest and dissatisfaction would decline.  If Ron Pickarskie was head chef for military food service, everyone would re-enlist.  Any prison which served Ron Pickarskie designed foods exclusively would have fewer problems and inmates who would be sending his recipes home to their families.  He is that good.

Life has not all been easy for Ron Pickarskie.  But it has not worn him down even a little.  Overweight when young, trained and educated to be a Christian Brother, he departed the Order and has only in recent years become an independent self-supporting entrepreneur and a married man.  Along the way, there were restaurant ventures which were not every one financially successful.  A hardworking professional cook from a childhood raised in a hotel managing family in Chicago, he learned vegan cuisine and led  American vegan chef teams to International Food Olympic competition victories winning gold medals in Germany during rigorous judging of quality by non-plant based food experts from around the world.  He has been though it all, seen it all, done it all and has no regrets as he cooks supper in his Colorado home kitchen, continually designs and perfects recipes for his books, and for corporations and institutions which seek his wise counsel.  He knows what works, and what doesn’t.  He is absolutely open and loving.  Dear.  When friends can get him to set aside modesty and shyness, he gives a good talk, though never a long one.  After a few words, he ducks and steps away heading back to the nearest kitchen.  “I hope you enjoy my food,” he says with a smile and sweet laugh.  Who wouldn’t?  Everyone does.  Keep up your good works brother Ron.  Feed the world plant-based nutrition.  Veganize with love.


Yes, it is.  One way is to support IPBN by listing vegan products on the new website: VeganQuality.Com. which is “under construction.”  Initiated, registered and copyrighted by Jim and Dorothy Oswald to provide a “Paul Newman like” financial support base for IPBN, VeganQuality.Com offers to list any vegan product manufacturer for US$100.00 per calendar year with an additional $1.00 (one dollar) per vegan product listed and $50.00 for a direct link to the manufacturer’s own website.  Ginny’s Vegan Foods will be the first listing and several other manufacturers have made tentative commitments.  Vegan restaurants can be listed as well and so can those vegan-friendly.  Produce growers and suppliers can be listed as veganic-organic, organic, transitional or regular standard.  Vegan quality chef training schools, food technologists, speakers and other presenters are also invited to secure listings and website linkages.  Publishers.  Professionals.  Off and running with this new project, webmaster Paul Turner of Houdini Websites is designing the format which will be officially launched January 1, 2001.  Early listers will receive free services for the balance of Year 2000 as an incentive to join up.  Vegan food producers desirous of listing from now through the end of Year 2001 are invited to contact:  VeganQuality.Com, 333 Bryn Mawr Avenue, Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania 19004-2606.  TEL:  610-667-6876 or FAX:  610-667-1501 for further information and a listing registration application form.




***** EDEN FOODS offers nearly 300 vegan products with integrated growing, processing, packaging and distribution systems centered at Eden Foods, Inc., 701 Tecumseh Road, Clinton, Michigan 49236.  TEL:  800-248-032O, 517-456-7424  FAX:  517-456-6175  EMAIL:  edeninfo@edenfoods.com  WEBSITE:  www.edenfoods.com.  New products are being introduced at an accelerating pace as entrepreneur Michael Potter and team lead in the race to make vegan food products available to everyone.  The EDEN team is simply without peer.  EDEN made soymilk the successful product that it is and stimulated many others to offer their versions of this healthful food.  IPBN salutes everyone at EDEN every day.  In a class by itself, EDEN is the best of the best.  It sets the standards.  EDEN friends, thank you, one and all.  Keep up the good work.   



Friend to all, Hom Jay Dinshah died June 8, 2000, in his office at the American Vegan Society in Malaga, New Jersey.  His desk and the chair from which he fell as his spirit passed on were one minute walk from the house where he was born.

Founder of AVS, since 1960 Jay Dinshah did the best he could, working every day of every year and praying that the last fellow creature slaughterhouse would be closed soon.  He was one of eight American-born children in a family headed by an Indian Parsee genius father and American orphan mother.  The Dinshahs have lived most of the 20th century on a homestead near Malaga Lake where Jay’s ashes were placed in the eternal waters by his wife, son, and daughter.

There’s nothing left of Jay’s body, but the books he wrote are in circulation globally.  And his ideas, which were highly criticized all the years he espoused them, remain sound and of value.  Tens of thousand who never heard of Jay are learning the concepts he taught:  compassion and harmlessness, love and truth.  His father taught that light can be healing and Jay preached laughter.  They were two of a kind, a pair of radical free thinkers who harmed no one and kept themselves well as healthful examples.  What they preached they practiced and no one who met them could deny that they were extraordinary examples.

Jay’s brother Roshan said, “I learned from my brother that one can live according to principle.”  Others have also noted this as many have written their condolences and told their life stories in letters sent to AVS in recent weeks.   These testimonies to Jay Dinshah’s goodness have come from many countries around the globe.  Their messages have all been the same:  Jay was kind to me, Jay helped me understand the importance of life and though Jay will be missed his work must continue.   

“AVS will go forward.” was new AVS president Freya Dinshah’s first announcement at the Board Meeting following Jay’s passing.  Married forty years, Jay and Freya were an ideal couple and now she will carry on the AVS work.  “We will build a team and move forward.” Freya has declared and the reorganized AVS Board of Directors have accepted responsibilities to ensure that progress will continue.  Were he yet present, Jay would probably say, “Get on with it.”

Those wishing to contribute energy, talents, time and money and good wishes to the AVS 21st Century Advancement effort are invited to contact:  Freya Dinshah, President, American Vegan Society, Box 369, Malaga, New Jersey 08328.  856-694-2887 TEL  856-694-2288 FAX

I believe in the forest, and in the meadow, and in the night in which the corn grows.

Henry David Thoreau, 1802


The time has come and only one place qualifies:  Philadelphia will be the site of the first IPBN Conference on Chinese Vegetarian Cuisine in Year 2001.  How better to commence a new millennium than by celebrating this 8000 year old vegan cuisine rooted in Taoism, Buddhism, survivalism and common sense.  Prospective presenters are invited to send proposals to IPBN.  Prospective co-sponsors are invited to offer collaboration strategies.  The organizing concept blends medical, herbal, historical, cultural, religious, nutritional, aesthetic, economic, cookery and epicurean considerations in a two-day format which will be based in Philadelphia’s Chinatown where four 100% vegan Chinese Vegetarian Restaurants (three of them kosher) will provide food service in situ with lectures and discussions in the restaurants and adjacent hotels.  Other Chinese restaurants with vegetarian menus abound in Philadelphia’s Chinatown.  Adjacent Vietnamese, Thai, Malaysian, Cambodian and Burmese restaurants also offer vegetarian menu selections.  This

cultural center has been called “vegetarian heaven” by more than a few visitors since it was begun in the 1840s.   Chinese grocery and herb shops will provide tours to familiarize participants with  the basic ingredients of  this cuisine.  Participants may visit local tofu and noodle factories as well as bean sprout and vegetable production facilities.  Chinese restaurant equipment design and manufacturing operations will be accessible.  Producers of Chinese vegetarian food products will be invited to exhibit and offer samples of their specialties.  Relationships between this healthful cuisine and healthcare will be discussed with specific references to its potentially positive effects in prevention and treatment of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other medical problems.  This will be a cooperative community building effort.  Desired outcomes include active participation by healthcare, restaurant and academic personnel along with the interested public from near and far.  Restaurateurs will be invited to describe their experiences providing this style and standard of foodservice.  Proliferation of 100% vegan Chinese vegetarian cuisine throughout North America is a goal.  There are now many such restaurants and more are needed so that people in every region can be served.  Contributions will be welcomed,  whether suggestions, offers to help or donations by check.  Interest and participation are invited from all.  No related interest will be intentionally left out.  Detailed registration and schedule information will be provided for all IPBN members several months before the Conference date.  Arrangements with Chinatown restaurants, Chinatown hotels, western and Chinese doctors, Philadelphia Medical School and other prospective collaborating institutions and groups are developing and this IPBN Project is developing.  If nothing else is achieved, the food will be outstanding and plentiful as cuisine always is in Philadelphia – the city of all kinds of love – where vegetarian traditions go back to early colonial and pre-colonial days.  Who will help with this Conference on Chinese Vegetarian Cuisine?   



Here is a great cookbook which will be reviewed in the Fall 2000 issue forthcoming!  It is an outstanding contribution to plant-based nutrition literature which should be on every hand, in every restaurant chef’s kitchen and public library collection as well as available in every bookstore.  None better, ever.  Simply the greatest and a must have, must read vegan resource of biblical stature.  Can’t wait?  The eager and avid with credit card in hand can quickly obtain copies of Incredibly Delicious:  The Vegan Paradigm Cookbook by telephoning Freya Dinshah at the American Vegan Society at 856-694-2887.  $22.50 plus shipping.  Every doctor should have a copy and prescribe its reading when appropriate.  A beautiful book from everyone’s friends the joyous vegan team at Gentle World on the island of Hawaii.  Aloha.    


Ice cream sells.  Make it out of oats and water and people will love it even more.  At OatsCream in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Sales are up and dissemination widespread as this product achieves veganomic success nationally.  Consisting only of micro pulverized oats and water with whatever flavoring is desired, OatsCream is a nutritious frozen soft vegan-ice-cream which is essentially sugar and fat-free.  Nothing toxic here, very few suffer allergies to oats.  Every town and village need an OatsCream dispensary.  It is a great dessert following a vegan pizza dinner.  Wherever people gather, at parties and beaches and parades and fairs, OatsCream can be profitable.  Coast-to-coast, distributors can supply it to retailers of every sort.  Governor Ventura:  Promote this product, please.  It could be the official refreshment of Wrestlemania events.  Serve it in the State Capitol and let people compare this plant-based nutrition confection with anything else they like.  It can win hearts, woo palates and perhaps bring in praise for anyone wise enough to promote it on the campaign trails.  If Jesse likes it most other will too.  Time for NON-DAIRY KING! 

It is about as simple as a product can be.  A frozen block of oat puree to which water and any natural flavoring are added and this slurry is blended in a soft-ice-cream machine.  It can sit there all day, continually blending and staying almost frozen, available when he spigot is turned and a cups or bowls of OATSCREAM are removed as needed.   

Help spread OATSCREAM cause by contacting:  XXXXX





TEL:  610-667-6876  FAX:  610-667-1501  EMAIL:  jmoswald@bellatlantic.net

WEBSITE:  www.plantbased.org

© 2000

Jim and Dorothy Oswald

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