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Stock-Free Growing - video with Iain Tollhurst  RSS feed

 
Burra Maluca
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Farmer Iain Tolhurst demonstrates how people can be fed with food grown stockfree, organically, ethically and sustainably.

Iain Tolhurst has been a commercial organic grower since the mid 1970s. He advises on all aspects of organic conversion and production systems in the UK and overseas. He works with Horticultural International, Garden Organic, Elm Farm Research Centre, Plunkett Foundation and Transrural Trust.

Produced by David Graham. Made with a grant from the Cyril Corden Trust.

 
allen lumley
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Burra Maluca : Great Find ! thank you for posting it !

Stock Free Fertility ( No animal products, Urine, Manure, Blood, Bone Meal Etc. ) Is a simple term to grasp once you are exposed to it- but I do wonder
if there is a Different Term that is in more common use?

I may have missed something- also I am assuming part of the reason to not include Animal products is a fear of introducing insects and other in-organics
from the animals supplementary feedings !

Starting from there, I can see Returning abandoned farmland to production via introducing Cattle, other Ruminates, and Then Chickens Ducks Turkeys-
in a Joel Salitian (SP) Rotational Grazing Scheme, To help jump start fertility.

Am I missing something here? leasing out suitable pasture land to a fellow farmer using Rotational Grazing practices, would help with fertility/organics
while adding To the bottom line while our new farmer prepares to begin his own 7 year cycle !

For the Good of The Craft ! Big AL
 
Jay Grace
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I don't guess they count the worm castings as animal manure then?
 
Scott Strough
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No doubt this is an improvement over conventional ag. It may even be a slight improvement over most commercial organic methods. However, I think it falls far short of permaculture, either with or without stock. It's almost as if he just dipped his toe into the pond, but never jumped in all the way. A whole lot of good things going on, but with all that tillage even he admits fertility gradually decreases each year until finally two and a half years of fallow are needed just to recover!

A properly designed permaculture system increases fertility every year, even when growing crops! Basically he is stuck back in the 1970's organic movement. Sustainable, but certainly not regenerative. Not bad, but could be better IMHO.
 
Dillon Nichols
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I'm with Scott on this one... he does at least have some neat permaculture-esque stuff in there, the hedgerows and predator habitat.

I'm not sold on the advantage of leaving out (non-imported) animal products, anyhow... but removing a dependency on off-site animal products that in turn depend on ? is a good step forwards...
 
Burra Maluca
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This was made for the Vegan Organic Network - it's not claiming to be permaculture.

There are a lot of people that don't want to involve livestock in their systems and I think those people will find much of interest in the video. He's written a book too, which I have just received and will be reviewing very soon.

For myself, I'm not vegan, yet. And I do incorporate domestic animals into my system. But as I get older I can imagine the animals here taking a smaller and smaller role and it's nice to know that it's not absolutely imperative that I keep them.

I don't guess they count the worm castings as animal manure then?


I think most vegans would count worms as wild animals, not livestock. It's up to the individual of course.
 
Dillon Nichols
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This was made for the Vegan Organic Network

Interesting; obvious that this is the market for this produce, but why not call it 'Vegan farming' or 'Vegan Produce' instead of 'stockfree'? Though perhaps this name is well-recognized in England, or among vegans, and only new to me. Or maybe this is a legal sidestep of a trademark...?


A book will no doubt be more informative; soil tests through the rotation cycle would be neat, but that's probably too much to hope for.
 
Burra Maluca
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I've just read the first chapter in the Growing Green book, which answers a few of the questions here.

More importantly, the copyright notice reads as follows -

The text of this work may be reproduced or quoted from for non-profit purposes provided the title, authors, ISBN number and the website www.veganorganic.net are given as the source. Illustrations and photographs are copyright to their originators.


Which is awesome as I'm normally very restricted on what I can quote here.

So, for future reference, the book I have is Growing Green - organic techniques for a sustainable future by Jenny Hall and Iain Tolhurst, ISBN number 978-0-9552225-1-1 published by The Vegan Organic Network, www.veganorganic.net

About the term stockfree -

1.3 Defining stockfree

Stockfree as a term was introduced in 2000. It is a description of an organic method of growing food without the use of animal inputs. It is an adaptation of the word 'stockless' commonly used by organisations like the independent Elm Farm Research Centre (EFRC) based in Newbury, Berkshire, to denote all arable farming.

Research into commercial stockfree-organic agriculture arose not for compassionate reasons but through economic necessity. This becomes a common theme in understanding the importance of UK-wide (macro) stockfree adoption. The Elm Farm stockless trials came about in the early 1990s because of the lack of farmyard manure in the arable eastern counties like Norfolk and South Lincolnshire. The lack of livestock inputs was proving a significant barrier to getting farmers to convert to organic grain production.

The Stockfre-Organic Standards (available at www.stockfreeorganic.net) were agreed in 2004 and revised in 2007. They provide the first guidelines for stockfree-organic systems and are further elaborated on in this book.
 
Scott Strough
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Burra Maluca wrote:This was made for the Vegan Organic Network - it's not claiming to be permaculture.

There are a lot of people that don't want to involve livestock in their systems and I think those people will find much of interest in the video. He's written a book too, which I have just received and will be reviewing very soon.

For myself, I'm not vegan, yet. And I do incorporate domestic animals into my system. But as I get older I can imagine the animals here taking a smaller and smaller role and it's nice to know that it's not absolutely imperative that I keep them.
Yes, it is certainly not as beneficial as permaculture. Like I said before, it is trapped in the organic science of around the 1970's and before. That's a huge improvement over conventional ag which is stuck in the paradigms of the 50's and 60's. Everything Iain Tolhurst does, I did myself over 35 years ago. The rotations, the green manures, the fallow years, all of it and more. The science behind various organic methodologies has advanced quite a bit since then though. Take for example the discovery of glomalin wasn't until 1996 and research on its importance is still ongoing. The plant communications set up by the Mycorrhizal networks extending the rhizosphere is ongoing research too. The idea of taking holism in science to working technological systems in agriculture to take advantage of these raw scientific advances in biology is in it's infancy. There are still multiple biochemical cycles in the soil that we still have no idea where exactly they happen. I think a lot of the world has no idea how far ahead of his time Bill Mollison actually was in developing his agricultural models before even all the raw science had a chance to catch up. It still hasn't completely caught up! We know it works because of the systems science approach of Mollison. But confirming all the individual pathways as to why is still many decades away.

Iain Tolhurst can write a book, and that's all good. For people unaware that organic can be done without stock, it can be a benefit. But there is not really anything he does at all that is innovative or an advancement over what has been developed and in practise by hundreds of thousands of people for decades. He doesn't even use mulches! How many millions of organic gardeners and farmers already use mulches? He plows in his cover crops instead of letting them rot on the surface in the O horizon of the soil! Permaculture principles like chop and drop and plant guilds are far better because they result in increasing soil fertility every year, not just fallow years.

Now if a person wanted some real good information on veganic agriculture and veganic permaculture, then check out these forums for Helen Atthowe. Her systems both before she went vegan and after she went vegan are miles ahead of what this guy does. And she has managed to do it on a similar commercial scale too. Her ideas about living mulches and the soil food web have influenced me greatly. I think she is a brilliant woman, who just happens to be vegan now too. I can't really say the same thing about Iain Tolhurst. His work is better than conventional ag, I praise him for that, but only marginally and not even near permaculture.

The last thing you said about using animals in your system. I am not vegan either, but I actually for the time being practise veganic permaculture. I simply simulate animal impact with careful mowing and pruning, and simulate an ungulate's rumen with compost piles. It is far less efficient and beneficial than actually using real animals, but it's the best I can do at the moment. You can do much better than what Iain Tolhurst is doing, believe me. The funny thing is that by year seven Iain does actually use companion planting covers and living mulches with his squash. So I think if he stepped back and thought about it just a bit more, he might even figure out a way to improve his system on his own. I guess everyone progresses at their own rate. Not everyone can be a genius like Bill Mollison, Masanobu Fukuoka, Helen Atthowe and sepp holzer.

 
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