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Grassroots News Vegan Views 97 (Summer 2003)

Vegan Organic Network/Trust (VON/VOT)

In May, VOT were awarded a £3,600 grant to purchase video equipment to make various videos on stockfree organic growing. The grant was from the Cyril Corden Trust (see p16 for details). VOT plan to start filming on various vegan organic farms this summer.

As reported in VV96 p13, VOT are also trying to acquire a stockfree organic agriculture, education, research and development centre. They have since told us that they have found a suitable site in Rochdale, and negotiations are at an advanced stage, although nothing is finalised, so fingers crossed.

Once again, they are organising a Farm visit at a vegan-organic farm in September: Tolhurst Organics (see Events, p3). This farm has recently been featured in the HDRA magazine (Henry Doubleday Research Association, who research into organic growing), mentioning VON too. It also featured in a very positive light in Countryside magazine, published by NFU (National Farmers Union). This is surprising since the NFU represent mainstream farming, and are normally very conventional in their approach.

See VV94: Vegan Shakers for interview with three active VON members.

Ancient Woodlands Project, Yorkshire

This 29-acre woodland is 3 miles from Scarborough, and forms part of the National Park. It is being run by Louisa Smith, a VV subscriber who wrote an article about it in VV96. She purchased the land recently, and her plan is to convert it back into a native woodland. Louisa and her two enthusiastic kids (aged 12 and 8, both vegan from birth) are keen to grow things. Louisa's first step was to see the land during different seasons, find the frost pockets, etc. She has had several site surveys done, one by the Native Parks Woodland Officer, who was very pleased with her intentions. Yorwoods (www.yorwoods.co.uk) who are Yorkshire-based were also helpful – they promote the sustainable use of woodland. And Tomas Remiros – Permaculture Association – to give help and advice on Permaculture and the existing species etc.

The woodland hasn't been intensively managed so there is natural regeneration. Ultimately, Louisa would like to get a gang of volunteers to clear paths, etc. Tree guards have been left on many trees – they should have been removed 10 years ago – so they need to be removed. There's naturally regenerated birch that needs thinning, and the gorse needs clearing. Yorwoods advised her not to start straight away (so no volunteers are needed until the week of 1st-8th of September 2003) but to get a management plan together first, to decide what to do in 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 5 years, etc.

One thing that Louisa urgently need help with right now is for someone to gather useful information on woodlands to be added to their website. Plants for a Future (www.pfaf.org) have lots of information on their website, whereas Louisa's is very basic, but needs more (e.g. on sustainable forestry, hedge-laying, coppicing, permaculture, tree-planting, green woodworking and organic gardening) so that it attracts more visitors to the website, and might help her to get funding and volunteers in the future. You do not need to know how to update the website – Louisa already has a volunteer to do that (although offers of help on the website are also welcome) – but just to supply the information. You also don't need to live in the Scarborough area. If you can help with this, please contact Louisa on 01723 514525 or 07748 101117. Email: Ancientwoodlands@aol.com. Web: www.woodlandproject.org.uk .

See VV95: The Ancient Woodland Project for an article on the project.

Plants for a Future (PFAF)

Richard Morris of PFAF writes…

It's time for a big re-think at the Blagdon site. The first three years of the planning has now expired, and we are putting a new application together and are in discussion with the planners. It's now the perfect time to form a new group with a fresh outlook and a number of new faces are already appearing. We will be holding regular meetings on the 3rd weekend of each month starting on the 19th/20th July 2003. If you want to get involved please come along to the meeting, ring 01208 872 963 for details. We've also come to the conclusion that we really have more land than we need. We would be happy to talk with groups and individuals looking for land.

The immediate focus will be on making the site presentable and clear of tat. Good progress has been made in this direction: all the piles of hardcore have now been crushed and turned into a car park and big fun was had demolishing caravans. There's still a few more to go if you fancy a bit of destruction! After that, work will begin on planting around the entrance way. The Field in Cornwall is looking really vibrant at the moment, from a distance it is really beginning to look like a woodland. Two new volunteers have been coming a couple of times a week and new volunteers are always welcome.

Plans are afoot for getting the catalogue off the ground. We have already been in contact with a number of small nurseries who are growing plants for us. Together they can supply 175 PFAF-style plants.

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Cross-reference: Growing Fruit & Veg