Animal Place is one of the only animal sanctuaries in the nation growing vegan produce. Visitors ask, rightfully so, why we abstain from using the manure produced by the resident animals on our 2.8-acre vegan micro-farm. After all, the animals are not being exploited or mistreated, what is the harm?
While it is true no harm comes to the animals by using their poop, the reality is most of our fruits, vegetables and grains are grown using the cruel by-products of industrialized farming. If we wish to encourage a more vegan world, then we must be models to other farms and individuals. We cannot do that if we use the manure of the cows, pigs and chickens.
For example, when you buy soil enriched with chicken manure, this is where that manure comes from:
This is a manure pit from a traditional egg-farm in California. The feces produced by the caged birds falls into this pit and after the birds are slaughtered, the litter is cleared out and used for fertilizer.
More important for those of us who care about animals, this is who the manure comes from:
No one with an ounce of empathy can look at this hen and think she is happy and content. Her existence is moment after moment of unceasing misery.
The flesh of this hen, a “spent egg-laying hen”, is not profitable. She may be composted or she may be slaughtered and her blood, bones and feathers ground up to be used in fertilizers as “blood and bone meal” or “feather meal”.
In fields growing corn, soy, vegetables and fruits, manure from local industrial animal farms are sprayed, often in excess, on the land. The wet manure is not processed like human sewage, so the raw waste dramatically increases the risk of transmitting bacteria to human consumers. Spinach and broccoli are not agents of E. coli, the poop sprayed on the soil growing them is, though.
We remember who manure comes from and how the lives of cows, pigs, and chickens on modern farms are miserable and their deaths cruel and unnecessary.
In our modern world, being completely vegan is virtually impossible. Yet it is possible to be more compassionate and sustainable with veganic agriculture, pushing us further away from a reliance on animal suffering and closer to a world that is kinder to all.
-Marji Beach, Education Manager
Stephanie Dohar was IT Director for a San Francisco nonprofit before moving to Grass Valley in March to take up veganic farming. She’s volunteered the rest of this year to expanding the 2.8-acre garden at the sanctuary into a model micro-farm for growing food kindly.
We’re scaling it up! As we enter our third and most intensive season, the goals for the veganic mico-farm at Animal Place are to grow a greater diversity and quantity of crops, increase the fertility of our soil, reduce our dependence on external inputs and most importantly, raise awareness about animal cruelty in our food systems.
Frequently Asked Questions from visitors:
1. What’s growing right now?
Cool weather veggies: artichokes, asparagus, beets, chard, collard greens, fennel, kale, lettuce, orach (mountain spinach), pak choi (Asian greens), parsnips, sugar snap peas, turnips and watermelon radish.
Herbs: chives, cilantro, dill (a favorite for our rabbits!), parsley and thyme.
Fruits: strawberries and raspberries will be ripe for picking this summer, while our young trees will bear fruit in the next few years - Asian pears, persimmons, figs and pomegranates.
2. What exactly isveganic farming?
In short, it means growing plants without the use of animal products, and with an ethic of “least harm” to wild critters living on the land.
Sad, but true…unless you’re buying directly from a veganic farmer, it’s almost certain that your organic produce was fertilized not only with animal manure from the livestock industry, but the dead beings themselves in the form of blood meal, bone meal, feather meal, fish meal or fish emulsion among other atrocities…ick.
3. But you’re not harming the animals at Animal Place, so why not use their manure?
While it’s true that the sanctuary residents are well cared for and probably wouldn’t notice if we roamed their spacious meadows to pick up their poop, our aim is to demonstrate that there are more effective and compassionate plant-based alternatives. We want to be a model and an ambassador for change!