In all honesty, I have no idea how this veganic garden is going to turn out. I blissfully know nothing about gardening in California, so I’m at the stage where I think everything and anything is possible. Tom Persons from Fruition Organics (the master gardener I’ve hired to help me), on the other hand, has been building gardens for clients in this environment for more than 25 years and has a better picture of what we’re up against. That sort of sounds like we’re up against a lot but what we’re really up against is something new…meaning we’re venturing into somewhat uncharted territory. There’s information out there about veganic gardening, just not a lot and hardly anything about doing it in Southern California (the Canadians, however, seemed to have totally gotten their veganic on!). Which is why I enlisted Tom to help me out. In our initial conversations he talked about typical garden issues and then came up with all sorts of ideas on how to address these challenges veganically. We’re not sure what is or isn’t going to work but we’re very excited about digging in and experimenting, tweaking as we go along the way, and even scraping and starting all over if we need to. As I told Tom, I’m okay with failure because this is a learning process for the both of us, and I find that thrilling.
As a vegan, I am a target for what I call the “gotchya finger.” People are always more than happy to point out that something I have/am doing is not vegan or vegan enough. “Plants feel pain too!” or “Animals can be killed or harmed when picking vegetables!” or “Did you just kill that mosquito? That’s not very vegan of you.” So let me share with you what I told Tom about my approach to our veganic gardening project, which is the same approach I take with my vegan lifestyle:
We are going for purpose here, not perfection.
Look, I exist on this planet and therefore am part of the cycle of nature, much the same way a lion in Africa is part of nature’s cycle or a blue whale in the Pacific Ocean is or a ladybug in my neighbor’s yard is. So I am going to leave a footprint…just like the lion and whale and ladybug are. The question becomes, what do I want that footprint to look like and how big will it be? For me, I choose to live my life as consciously and compassionately as possible and being vegan is the best lifestyle to allow me to fully support that effort. So like the lion that may unintentionally step on a beetle or crush a wildflower while taking down an elephant for a meal, I too will end up squashing an aphid or displacing a gopher (there are a few gopher holes where we intend to put the garden…we are not killing them but they will have to find a new place to live!) in an effort to grow my meal. And I can live with that kind of a footprint.
Based on that, these are the broad guidelines that Tom and I put together for our veganic garden:
- Veganic (organic, no animal/animal by-products)
- Use gray water (as much as possible)
- Sustainable (using recycled material and local resources as much as possible)
- Organic, heirloom beans
Notice the “as much as possible” qualification on a couple of points. That’s what I mean by “purpose” and not “perfection.” Will we have to make small compromises here and there? Maybe. Maybe not. When we’re faced with a difficult situation we’ll do our best to ensure we live up to our expectations and I will share with you any dilemmas we face and workarounds we employ.
Now on to the dirty work…literally! Tom and I have been at work for two days and I can’t wait to show you what we’ve accomplished. Stay tuned…more to come!