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  • Richard Morris
    ... Subject: down on the farm Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2004 19:40:46 -0000 From: peter white Hi Following on from the response to the
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 11, 2004
      -------- Original Message --------
      Subject: down on the farm
      Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2004 19:40:46 -0000
      From: peter white <p.a.white@...>


      Following on from the response to the previous 'Farming Today' programme
      ('what would happen to the countryside if everyone went vegan?') radio 4
      have now recorded a full 'On Your Farm' programme at Iain Tolhursts
      stockfree organic market garden in Berkshire.

      This will be going out on Sunday 15 February at 6.30am, you will be able
      to listen to it during the following week from 'listen again' on

      I hope to have a written synopsis of it available also, if you would
      like a copy of this please email me direct.

      This is a very encouraging development, Iain's place is an outstanding
      model of what can be done to grow food without using animal based
      inputs. There will be a link to the VOT website www.veganorganic.net
      <http://www.veganorganic.net> on the Farming Today webpages, so this
      will generate considerable interest! We have prepared some special
      material to add to our website.

      During the recording Iain mentioned the wider issues of animal-free
      farming, the valuable social content of his work, plus the work of VOT
      and the forthcoming Stockfree Organic Standards, how much of this will
      be included depends on the final editing; a half-hour on mainstream
      radio is a tremendous breakthrough.

      Best wishes
      Peter White and all at Vegan-Organic Trust (VOT)

      Plants for a Future: 7000 useful plants
      Web: http://www.pfaf.org/ same as http://www.comp.leeds.ac.uk/pfaf/
      Post: 1 Lerryn View, Lerryn, Lostwithiel, Cornwall, PL22 0QJ
      Tel: 01208 872 963 / 0845 458 4719
      Email: webmaster@...
      PFAF electronic mailing list http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pfaf
    • Richard Morris
      Date: Tue, 17 Feb 2004 14:16:40 -0000 From: peter white To various recipients Attached is the transcript of the ground breaking
      Message 2 of 2 , Feb 18, 2004
        Date: Tue, 17 Feb 2004 14:16:40 -0000
        From: peter white <p.a.white@...>

        To various recipients

        Attached is the transcript of the ground breaking radio 4 programme
        broadcast on 15 February, plus an article written by Iain Tolhurst
        explaining his background and methods in more detail. Please pass these
        on to others wherever you can, use them to generate interest and
        publicity; and if you are not already a supporter of Vegan-Organic
        Trust, then please see especially the details at the end of the transcript!

        If you do not take attachments please let me know and I will paste all
        into an email

        Best wishes
        Peter and all at VOT

        Rich's note: copy of BBC interview below, but the
        article by Tolhurst not included.

        BROADCAST 15 FEBRUARY 2004

        This is an edited and somewhat paraphrased version of the broadcast. How
        can a written transcript fully convey the impact of these on-site
        recordings or put over the obvious enthusiasm, knowledge, dedication and
        sheer joy demonstrated by Tolly and his friends? Well, it can't but I
        have tried to give at least some impression of the programme, which was
        presented by Anna Hill. By the way, 'stockless' is the usual
        agricultural term for a farm having no animals, 'stockfree' is the term
        used by Vegan-Organic Trust and by Tolly here, as a more positive term
        to describe a holding where no animals are kept for commercial gain and
        where no manures or other animal by-products are used as inputs into
        the growing system - Peter

        The broadcast opened at the end of the growing cycle, with customers
        collecting their vegetable boxes from local distributors and describing
        the distribution scheme.

        Anna explained how Iain Tolhurst (Tolly) took over a dilapidated 2-acre
        walled garden with 16 acres of field scale production in 1987 and
        transformed it into a thriving market garden. But this is no ordinary
        place - it is what is known as stockless, there are no animals and no
        animal manures or by-products are used at all.

        Tolly explained that market gardens have traditionally been dependent on
        manures, but that on his holding this tradition has been broken so that
        instead of bringing in fertility there is a relatively closed system.
        The walled garden is partly bounded by a traditional flint wall, which
        is over 300 years old, partly by an old 'moat' now used as a
        conservation area and partly by trees. It is on a steep slope and the
        whole site has varying microclimates, which can make for some very late
        frosts. Much use is made of polytunnels. Tolly went on to say that the
        soil is a very important element and great care is taken of it,
        particularly its biological content such as the earthworms and other
        soil fauna.

        Crop rotations are all-important to a stockfree system and the methods
        used were outlined, with a 7 year rotation for the field scale
        vegetables and a 9 year intensive vegetable rotation in the market
        garden (an article fully describing these rotations can be emailed on
        request - Peter). The use of green manures is also a key element and a
        green manure is any plant - especially legumes - that is used for
        fertility rather than being grown as a crop.

        Anna - why legumes?
        Tolly - these plants take the abundant nitrogen from the air and via the
        soil bacteria recycle it so that it can be used as a source of
        fertility, however the green manures must be carefully managed in order
        to do this!

        Anna - doesn't such a system require a lot of land to be tied up rather
        than growing crops?
        Tolly - we are prepared to accept that some land has to be devoted to
        growing the green manures. Perhaps from the economists point of view
        this would not seem efficient but we have been doing this for a very
        long time and we actually started with a conventional animal manure
        system, so we have a fairly good idea of what the economics are. If we
        were to try to keep livestock the cost of the husbandry would in fact be
        uneconomic. So it is cheaper for us not to have animals, and a lot of
        farmers are in the same position these days, why not just use green
        manures instead? The economic argument against stockfree just doesn't
        stack up any longer.

        Anna - surely these methods could not be applied to, for example, cereals?
        Tolly - we would not grow cereals on this site, it's too small, but
        there are many examples of stockfree cereal growing. ADAS Terrington ran
        trials for many years and the economics were very good, the fertility
        cycle was very strong. There are no practical or economic reasons why
        stockfree cannot be done on a bigger scale, providing there is a proper
        price, which organic does attract, we are not talking about premiums,
        just a reasonable price. There is no reason why say a 1000 arable acre
        farm cannot be growing stockfree organic arable crops using rotations
        and green manures and given the fact that livestock loses so much money
        they would be better off doing that.

        Anna - are you saying that farmers are too greedy, trying to get too
        much out of their land?
        Tolly - no, I don't think farmers are greedy, they are just trying
        desperately to stay in business. The countryside is losing people at a
        fantastic rate, anything that brings more people back on the land is
        good and stockfree organic does have a slightly higher labour element.
        We also need to get back to local food distribution; this has started
        now and will snowball in the future.

        Anna - so how did you start your organic box scheme?
        Tolly - we started very small and informally just by talking to people
        and a system of neighbourhood reps was established who look after local
        distribution, now there are 31 local reps who look after their local
        customers. We try to encourage people to walk to collect the boxes,
        rather than use cars, this means customers have to make a little effort
        themselves and so appreciate that food just doesn't turn up on the
        doorstep! It's a neighbourly scheme and actually gives some more social
        value to peoples lives.

        Tollys views, plus the value, taste and freshness of the vegetables,
        were endorsed in interviews with some of the customers.

        Returning to the market garden, two of the staff were interviewed at the
        potato store where straw bales protect the spuds. Chris and JJ spoke of
        their enthusiasm for the work. They explained how positive it was to see
        how the environment was protected, how wildlife was encouraged through
        beetle banks, hedgerows and varying tree plantings. A key comment was
        that the work is about practical environmentalism, beyond just protests
        and ideas, and just being here is a pleasure!

        Anna - what do you both think about stockless systems?
        Coming from a conservationists viewpoint, its about being wildlife
        friendly, through the rich eco-system, lack of pesticides and so forth.
        Stockless is also completely relevant as it is a closed system not
        taking anything away from the land, its an efficient system.

        Anna - and I suppose you two are the most efficient things on the farm?
        Oh yes!

        Back to Tolly again

        Anna - you are interested in local food, so how big do you want to get?
        Tolly - well, that's a good question, which we have often pondered;
        getting too big would not be a good idea - personal involvement would be
        lost and I enjoy the practical growing side too much. Up to about 500
        weekly boxes is about right for us, so long as the distribution system
        is in place.

        Anna - it looks like you have sustainability in practise here
        Tolly - we hope so, it is very difficult to measure sustainability in
        its various forms but we know that we are pretty near to soil
        sustainability, we are not losing the essential nutrients, these are
        steadily improving, as far as we know at the moment we can maintain
        fertility indefinitely within our closed system.

        Anna - you could do this in your back garden couldn't you?
        Tolly - yes, you certainly could, lots of people do so and we are very
        happy to see that but many do not have the necessary time.

        Anna - and you are all about delivering a personal service?
        Tolly - Yes, we like people to be able to identify our produce with our
        farm. We have farm walks here, visitors from all over the world,
        overseas students come bringing welcome ideas and all this is an
        important social element for us.

        Anna - why isn't everyone using your system, is it too much like hard work?
        Tolly - stockfree has been done successfully in many countries for
        centuries, look at China for example and it does work on any scale, but
        as with many things it has never been done here before. People do like
        to see it happening and we help to inform them. We hope it is going to
        increase. There is a movement now, there is the Vegan-Organic Trust
        which is very active in promoting stockfree farming, there is also a new
        set of standards which they are about to launch in the next few months
        under the wing of the Soil Association. These standards will be a world
        leader. There has never been a set of stockfree organic standards
        anywhere in the world so Britain is leading the way. We have to start
        thinking about better use of the land and even conventional farmers
        could benefit a lot from for example increased use of green manures.

        The programme ended on this affirmative note

        After this programme what next?

        All in all a very positive message that Vegan-Organic Trust will build
        upon,............next we hope to feature stockfree in the
        Archers!..............well, Tolly used to advise the producers of the
        Archers when organic farming was first featured on the programme!

        Vegan-Organic Trust is an educational and research charity that exists
        to promote stockfree organic growing. If you are not already a supporter
        of Vegan-Organic Trust please do unite with us in helping to show the
        world how stockfree growing will benefit people, animals and the

        Details of how to become a supporter are on the website www.veganorganic.net
        Or by post from Patrick Browne (VOT), 161 Hamilton Road, Longsight,
        M13 0PQ

        Information about stockfree methods and how they can be applied on
        farms, allotments and gardens is featured on the website, along with
        other information and links to other sources.

        This text may be freely reproduced so long as the contents are not
        distorted and Vegan-Organic Trust, its purpose and contact details are
        mentioned; please pass it on to anyone who may be interested.

        Plants for a Future: 7000 useful plants
        Web: http://www.pfaf.org/ same as http://www.comp.leeds.ac.uk/pfaf/
        Post: 1 Lerryn View, Lerryn, Lostwithiel, Cornwall, PL22 0QJ
        Tel: 01208 872 963 / 0845 458 4719
        Email: webmaster@...
        PFAF electronic mailing list http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pfaf
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