I've been a vegan for over a decade and got into permaculture a few years ago. I've looked through some of the veganic stuff and some of it seems kind of silly, if not a little militant, but I guess to each their own.
For example - no manure. I have a native population of bats that show up every year, (I consider them friends, as they hunt my enemy known as the mosquito), I can easily collect their droppings by placing a bucket under their nest. Why should this natural resource be wasted?
I'm just curious as to if I'm missing something.
I have human friends that I benefit from all the time. I.E. I need help moving such and such. Why wouldn't you have animal friends that you benefit from?
Hi David, thanks for the comment, I think you raise an interesting question. To me the issue as a vegan organic gardener is fundamentally about whether our relationships with non-human animals is exploitative or not, or whether unnecessary harm is caused by our actions, rather than simply excluding certain items because they are technically 'animal products'.
Indeed I’ve often been asked whether a completely animal-free permaculture is even actually possible. My response is, of course not, and neither would it be desirable. For example, how would we fence out the earthworms that build our soil and maintain its fertility, or the bees that pollinate our fruittrees and vegetables, and why ever would we wish to? In fact, we actively design in features that are intended to attract wildlife: Ponds for frogs, toads and dragonflies, and flowering plants to bring in the ladybirds and hoverflies that keep populations of potential pests like slugs and aphids in check, and are essential to maintaining healthy productive ecosystems. What we wouldn’t include are those ‘system components’ that we believe perpetuate exploitative relationships with our non-human earth co-citizens, such as pigs, goats and chickens, whose primary function is the production of meat, milk and eggs.
On a more practical level I'm not too sure about the wisdom of using fresh bats droppings (guano) as a fertiliser, as I believe that, like birds droppings, these can have very high high nutrient concentrations and can cause damage to the soil and plants if applied in excess. Bat guano should therefore be well composted before application, or else applied in very small amounts. Also mining bat's guano from caves as sometimes happens in commercial situations can cause damage to often delicate eco-systems. Some bats will starve to death when regularly disturbed during their resting period, and guano mining has been linked to declining bat populations in Jamaica for example, but I'm guessing that this is not the sort of situation you are talking about!
Thanks for the reply Graham. Your first paragraph is pretty much spot on to my own feelings.
Definitely not mining. There is a family of bats that return to a nesting spot in my neighbors roof year after year. I as well wouldn't use straight bat droppings; they would be heavily diluted if I did decide to use them as a fertilizer. My real need for their guano is to build them more nesting sites, as I have plenty of mosquitos to provide many families of them a fantastic life of all you can eat.
And really isn't that what friends are supposed to do - Help you live a better life!