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Vegan about Nailsworth

31 Jan

Situated in the rolling Cotswold landscape, Nailsworth is a pretty market town and a contender for the most vegan-friendly place in Gloucestershire, with a large amount of vegan-friendly places to eat for such a small town. Let’s not forget it’s very own vegan football club – read on for more details…



Days Mill, Old Market, Nailsworth, GL6 0DU

Details: Asparagasm Kitchen and Hub is a venue hosting vegan cookery workshops and is a base for Asparagasm pop-up dining events throughout the Cotswolds and beyond.
Asparagasm has a range of wheat-free beer and gorgeous wine. More details here.


Forest Green Rovers Football Club

Forest-Green-Rovers-Football-ClubThe New Lawn, Another Way, Nailsworth, GL6 0FG

T: 01453 834860

Details: Based just outside of Nailsworth, Forest Green Rovers, are the longest serving member of the Football Conference. All the food served on site is vegan. I’d recommend their vegan quorn “Q-Pie”. Forest Green Rovers is dedicated to becoming an environmentally friendly football club, with a rain-water irregated pitch and solar PV installed on site, you can read more about this on their website.

The Olive Tree Restaurant

28 George Street, Nailsworth, GL6 0AG

T: 01453 834802

The Olive Tree Mediterranean Restuarant has an entirely vegan menu with risotto, pizza, pasta, and even a vegan brownie sundae.

Green Spirit

Market Street Nailsworth GL6 0BZ

T: 01453 835735

A fantastic, independent wholefood shop, stocking lots of vegan speciality items, such as vegan yoghurts and plant milks, along with a good selection of organic fruit and veg.

Shiny Goodness

11 Fountain Street, Nailsworth, Glos GL6 0BL.

T: 01453 832986 E:

Shiny Goodness sells natural remedies, locally sourced produce and “free-from” alternatives.


ruskin-mill-cafeRuskin Mill Cafe

Ruskin Mill College, Old Bristol Road, Nailsworth GL6 0LA

T: 01453 837527

Off the beaten track, Ruskin Mill Cafe is situated in Ruskin Mill college. There are often vegan options, and much of the food is freshly grown in the college grounds. You can sit and admire the lake in front of the college from the cafe balcony.




Vegan Kids Picnic – 5th July 2015

18 Jun

Gloucestershire Vegan Group vegan kids picnicI’m delighted to announce that on the 5th July 2015 Gloucestershire Vegan Group will be holding it’s first ever event designed specifically for families. We hope to enjoy an afternoon of picnicking, activities and games in the lovely Stratford Park in Stroud, Gloucestershire. Our event is open to anyone who is vegan and their families or anyone who is interested in veganism. We’d love you to bring along a dish of vegan food to share, a picnic blanket and plates. After lunch we will play some games, and get stuck into some family friendly activities, including a special game of Stratford Park I-spy. We will meet at the bandstand at 12.30pm, and will picnic nearby. Please r.s.v.p at if you wish to join us.

Vegan football match – a world exclusive!

2 Nov

The players warm up pre-match

Kicking-off The Vegan Society’s 70th Anniversary year, and in celebration of World Vegan Day (November 1st), our local Gloucestershire-based football club Forest Green Rovers hosted a very special event: the world’s first vegan football match.

While football and veganism may sound like an unlikely combination, Forest Green FC made the headlines in 2012 when – inspired by vegan Chairperson Dale Vince – it chose to take all meat products off of the menu. Dale, who heads Stroud-based green energy company Ecotricity explains how his decision to make Forest Green Rovers into a vegetarian club is based on environmental sustainability and health; “We took some flak for it but red meat is bad for us. It’s also unsustainable. And it takes 10 grammes of vegetable protein to produce a gramme of beef. You have diminishing returns. The rough analysis is that you can feed 10 vegetarians or one meat-eater.”

Forest Green Rovers vegan buffet - a beautiful spread

Forest Green Rovers vegan buffet – a beautiful spread

As all of the food served in the club’s hospitality areas was vegan on November 1st, (it’s usually veggie with vegan options) we arrived before the game to tuck into a fantastic vegan buffet. The spread was delicious, and a great example of how appealing a vegan buffet can be. There were sweet potato & mushroom burgers, gorgeous crispy polenta chips with tomato relish, grilled courgette and fennel wraps, and much more lovely fresh (and animal-free) food.

There was a buzzing pre-match atmosphere in the club’s Carol Embrey suite, with fellow Vegan Society members, staff, and Forest Green fans mingling and chatting excitedly about the game. The match was against Lincoln City, who are ranked lower in the league than Forest Green, but were fresh from a 5-1 win against Alfreton. In one corner was a huge vegan cake, baked by Leicestershire company The Vegan Cakery, to celebrate The Vegan Society’s 70th Anniversary. It was in the shape of a football, adorned with icing sunflowers and football boots. This epic cake was flanked on either side by a sea of cupcakes bearing either The Vegan Society’s logo or the Forest Green Rovers emblem. In the other corner was the FA Cup, which was on tour, and a steady stream of people having their photo taken with this iconic football trophy.


The Vegan Society’s 70th Anniversary Cake

It was great to see fellow Glos Vegans there, and also to meet the Vegan Society Staff. I especially loved chatting the the Forest Green fans about the game to come, what to chant; “Green Army!”, and what they made of the vegetarian menu; “…it doesn’t matter whether it’s vegetarian, so long as it’s tasty”.

Forest Green Rovers Chairman Dale Vince and The Vegan Society's CEO Jasmijn de Boo watch the cake cutting

Vegan Footballer Neil Robinson, Forest Green Rovers Chairman Dale Vince and The Vegan Society’s CEO Jasmijn de Boo watch the cake cutting

The game itself was a thriller, with goals being scored down to the final whistle. Lincoln were lucky to begin with several good chances and raced to a 3-0 lead. The final of these three goals was scored after Forest Green’s heroic goalkeeper Sam Russell, clad in fluorescent pink kit, managed to save a penalty, and a rebounding shot, but was eventually overwhelmed by the sheer number of Lincoln players in the Forest Green box.

Retired Vegan Pro Footballer Neil Robinson gives a half-time talk

Retired Vegan Pro Footballer Neil Robinson gives a half-time talk

The half-time talk was given by The Vegan Society’s guest of honour Neil Robinson, the first ever vegan professional footballer. Now retired, Neil signed to Everton in 1973, and later played for Swansea City, Grimsby Town and Darlington. He spoke about how he scored the first ever “vegan goal” and about the importance of veganism for animals, and the environment. He also talked about the benefits of vegan nutrition to health for professional athletes. It was moving to see someone speak so proudly and clearly about veganism to a large crowd of assembled football fans, attributing his vegan diet to strong fitness and health.

After half time, Forest had a radical change of outlook, and the attacking tempo went up several notches. With Rovers being awarded a penalty after Elliot Frear was taken down in the Lincoln box, James Norwood took a spot-kick sending Lincoln’s the wrong way, and the ball to the back of the net. This goal marked the beginning of Rover’s remarkable revival, with Norwood scoring another amazing goal only a few minutes later. The show-stopping equaliser came from Forest Green in the final minutes of added time, a great pass from the ‘man of the match’ James Norwood to Dean Bennett who scored. We leapt to our feet to applaud this amazing come-back. It was a hugely entertaining game, and we will definately be back to support our favourite local vegan-friendly club in action.

Watch the highlights of the match:

A great short film made of the day by HubStroud


Thanks to Forest Green Rovers and The Vegan Society for a great day out, and a momentous day for veganism.

Vegans dine out in Nailsworth

13 Aug

Great news for anyone looking to dine out in the vibrant Gloucestershire market town of Nailsworth – The Olive Tree Mediterranean Restaurant has added a selection of vegan choices to their menu. Their separate vegan menu is available to view online. The options for hungry vegans include Campagne Pizza (roasted garlic tomatoes, courgettes, peppers, olives and chillis, topped with rocket), Spaghetti Amatriciano with roasted veg and olives, or Antipasti of Sundried Tomatoes. Most excitingly, there’s even three vegan choices for dessert including a Chocolate Brownie Sundae.


Gloucestershire Vegans dining out at The Olive Tree

We love to see local places making an effort to include us in their menu choices, so to show our support for The Olive Tree we decided to combine a Gloucestershire Vegan Group meet-up and walk, with lunch there.

Below is a report from Gina on how it went:


Admiring the view

“The long-planned Walk to Box Village finally arrived on a very warm and sunny day when 9 of the Group met in the Waterside Garden Centre carpark on the Avening Road. Three other friends joined us and we all set off on the gently uphill journey towards Box. We headed up through the woods to Pensile Road and after a little incline, on to a viewpoint from which could be seen the trees and hills surrounding Nailsworth. We then continued up the hill towards the lovely winding Scarr Hill, arriving on the picturesque Box Village Green. After a short pause to regain our breath, we wandered through the village, noting their unusual library facilities  …. a disused old red telephone box, where people borrow and lend each other an assortment of reading matter!


The Box phone-booth library

We continued along Box Lane with its typical Cotswold stone houses and wonderful views and finally down through the fields to Balls Green. By this time, tummies were beginning to rumble and we hastened back down Pensile Road to The Olive Tree spot on 1pm where Paddy – the proprietor – was waiting to welcome us. Upstairs, a long table was laid to accommodate us all together enabling a very sociable meal. The exciting menu was extensive, with 6 starters, 6 main courses and 3 desserts – vegan beer was also on offer.”
Chocolate brownie sundae

Chocolate Brownie Sundae

Thanks to very much to Mike who made a great success of organising this walk & lunch, for Gina for the write up & photos, and also to Anotonio for some fab photos.
Check out The Olive Tree:
28 George Street, Nailsworth Gloucestershire GL6 0AG
Tel: 01453 834802

Tour de Tetbury

20 May

Vegan cyclists take on the Royal Oak

Go vegan cyclists!

Go vegan cyclists!

Last year it became apparent that we had quite a few keen cyclists in our group who were longing for a cycle-adventure, so when this year’s events were being planned, a bike-ride was one of the first in the list. By wonderful coincidence, at about the same time I had an email from Kate Lewis, who had recently become proprietor of the Royal Oak in Tetbury, she was enthusiatic about having our group to visit, as she’s vegan herself, and runs vibrant pop-up vegan fine dining events  …and so the vegan Tour de Tetbury was born.

We couldn’t have picked a better day, cloudless and stunningly sunny. A group of nine of us set off from Stroud at 10.30am and wound our way up the intimidatingly steep Butterrow Hill. We stopped for a bit at the top to take in the incredible view of the Stroud Valleys from Rodborough Common, and to catch a breath. With the biggest hill soundly behind us, we crossed the common – past shade-bathing herds of cows – and on through the quiet streets of Minchinhampton. At Gatcombe Park we took a left and meandered our way down through the woods to Cherington Lake, which was thick with lilypads, just allowing small glimpses of water to catch the sun. From Cherington it was one glorious flat road to the Royal Oak – part of cycle-friendly Sustrans Route 45. The hedgerows were alive and billowing with vivid green spring growth and clouds of cow-parsley. The road was quiet and the sky seemed so big and blue, we cycled side-by-side chatting.

Checking out the view at Cherington Lake

Checking out the view at Cherington Lake

As soon as we arrived at the Royal Oak I knew it was the place to be! The pub has been lovingly restored, and just looked great.We left our bikes in the beautiful wooden bike shed, and one of our group came out the pub door grinning from ear to ear and clutching a pint vegan (unfined) Moor Ale. We met up with eight more of our group who joined us for lunch.

Soaking up the sun - and atmosphere in the Royal Oak beer garden

Soaking up the sun – and atmosphere in the Royal Oak beer garden

Kate and her team were so welcoming and friendly. They’d prepared a special 3-course vegan menu for us (although there are always several vegan dining options on normally – including a vegan burger). This consisted of fresh zingy warm salad of asparagus, sun-blushed tomatoes and ratte potatoes, with smoky seeds for starters, as well as a wild mushroom soup option. For mains, there was Herb nut roast, with rosemary gravy, roasted potatoes, parsnips and vegetables. The puddings were the show-stoppers – a Lazy Booja Berry Glory , as well as options for Booja Booja Ice cream and fruit, and Dolcetti Sorbets.

Vegan Roast Dinner - Royal Oak Style: Oak Leaf Sharing Platter, Asparagus and Sun-blushed Tomato Salad, Herby Nut Roast, Lazy Booja Berry Glory.

Vegan Roast Dinner – Royal Oak Style: Oak Leaf Sharing Platter, Asparagus and Sun-blushed Tomato Salad, Herby Nut Roast, Lazy Booja Berry Glory.

It was the first time I’ve eaten a vegan roast dinner out locally, as most veggie roasts aren’t vegan friendly, and it felt special to be so accomodated. The starter salad was really fresh and full of texture from the smoked seeds, and sun-blushed tomatoes. It had a good tangy dressing which worked well with the potatoes. The roast was really flavourful, moist with a good quantity of crunchy nuts and fresh herbs. The roast potatoes were beautifully crispy, and the parsnips sweet and well-roasted, the side veg was cooked well, and everything was smothered in a good dose of rosemary gravy. The Booja Berry Glory was incredible. Anyone who has tried Booja Booja ice-cream will let you know how amazing it is. But imagine this luscious chocolate cashew-based ice-cream combined with strawberries, cherries and chunks of chocolate tiffin.

Kate brings us some vegan wines to try

Kate brings us some vegan wines to try

It was an incredibly relaxing setting, with views onto Tetbury Allotments and beyond onto hawthorn trees seemingly iced with blossom. Loads of the group enjoyed the Moor Ale, which has a really good hoppy flavour. We also sampled a few of the vegan wines stocked by the Royal Oak, of which there are several.  The Vinos de la Tierra de Castilla Dragora Blanco, was a big hit, it had a zingy citrusy flavour. Other vegan drinks they have are Orchard Pig Cider and Freedom Organic lager as well as a good range of soft drinks.

As a parting gift Kate gave us some gorgeous snacks to sample from her friend who runs Moral Fibre – a nutritious vegan snack company. I look forward to seeing what the rest of the group made of them. I sampled the Choco-banananut Bites which were really stuffed with bananaryness, and had a good chewy more-ish texture.




Snacks by Moral Fibre

We rode back to Stroud, full and happy after such a special afternoon. The Royal Oak, Tetbury is too good to miss, and wonderfully welcoming to all – but especially vegans. Looking forward to visiting again!


Pizza & beer at Stroud Brewery

23 Sep
Glos vegan group brewery

Sitting out on the decking at Stroud Brewery

In the last few years Stroud Brewery has opened it’s doors on Friday & Saturday evenings to punters in search of a good pint. It has a bar with a laid-back ambiance and comfy seating, an outdoor covered decking area with benches, and a chance to sit amongst the brewing beer kept in towering, impeccably shiny barrels!

Seeing as Stroud Brewery currently has nine different kinds of bottled beers that are organic and Vegan Society certified, produced at it’s small brewery just outside of Stroud town centre, and we as a group are keen to support local vegan-friendly businesses, visiting was a not-to-be-missed event for Gloucestershire Vegan Group. Better still, there is an outdoor clay oven on site, where pizzas are baked by the masterful resident bakers – Velo Bakery. They are very open to vegan ways, and you can bring your own favourite vegan cheese sub, which they will add to any of the veggie option pizzas.

Velo Bakery pizza with vegan cheese

Velo Bakery pizza with vegan cheese

This all made for a great meet-up last Saturday 21st September. Many people had never been to the brewery before, and were surprised at how such an excellent venue could be hidden away on an industrial-looking trading estate. There were over 25 of us, which kept the pizza oven very busy, especially as many people decided the pizzas were too good to only have one. The dough was thin, crispy and perfectly baked. The high temperature of the clay oven blitzed even the most resistant-to-melting vegan cheese to a semi-liquid state. The beer selection down at the brewery is pretty extensive. I personally love the ‘Black Cat’ stout (a nod to the mythical big cat sightings in the area) which is rich, bitter and dark. Other folks were enjoying ‘Tom Long’ (named after the legendary local highwayman) which is light and aromatic, with hints of orange zest and coriander. Another great beer, which is sometimes less easy to find in local pubs and off-licences, but is always in stock at the brewery is Maris Otter – a singe malt, single hopped beer, so special it comes in smaller bottles so you can savour every drop. There is also organic cider, and a selection of non-alcholic drinks and organic bar snacks.

Thanks to everyone who came along, and to the Brewery & Velo Bakery for being our hosts for the evening – we will be back!

Vegan Beer

You may be surprised to learn that beer is not always vegan. It’s unfortunate but most cask conditioned beers contain finings – wikipedia tells us:

“Finings are substances that are usually added at or near the completion of the processing of brewing wine, beer and various non-alcoholic juice beverages. Their purpose is for removal of organic compounds…historically, various substances such as egg whites, blood, milk, fish swim bladder derivatives have been used as finings.”

It strikes me as rather ridiculous that the only reason to add these products, that come from causing suffering and/or death to animals, is for the visual appearance of the beer – to make it look less cloudy.

Bottle conditioned beers more often than not don’t contain finings, but unless the label on your beer says “suitable for vegans” or is Vegan Society certified – as is the case with Stroud Brewery bottled (but not cask) beers, it is impossible to know. Unlike most other food and drink alcohol has very poor labelling, without ingredient listings.

Fortunately there is a fantastic online resource for vegetarians and vegans called Barnivore where information on wine, beer and spirits that don’t contain animal products is compiled. You can even download their phone app so that you can check out what you can drink while out and about.

There are also a few UK based breweries who do produce vegan draft beer as well as bottled, these include:

Samuel Smiths (all of their draft beer is vegan with the exception of Old Brewery Bitter) – there’s a Sam Smiths pub in Gloucester and a bar in Cheltenham

Hop Back Brewery

Marble Brewery

Pitfield Brewery

Why not ask your local pub to get a cask from one of these breweries as a guest ale?

For more information on vegan drinks – look up this page on the Campaign for Real Ale’s website

Wild Food

18 Mar

We’re so lucky in Gloucestershire to have many wildlife-rich and green areas close by. Spring is almost here, and bringing with it the first shoots of spring leaves. Wild Garlic and Nettles are two great ingredients which are easy to find growing in the woods and fields around this time of year, and can be made into yummy vegan dishes.

Wild Garlic

The distinctive green leaves and star shaped flowers of wild garlic

The distinctive green leaves and star shaped flowers of wild garlic

Also known as Ramsons –  Is a wild relative of chives with pungent bright green garlic-flavoured leaves. It grows vigorously in woodlands and other shaded areas and when walking in woods carpeted with Wild Garlic leaves in Spring, the garlicky aroma will fill the air. It has beautiful white star-shaped flowers which are also edible, as are the bulbs. Wild Garlic can be eaten raw, added to soups or stir-frys, and be made into pesto. Be aware that Wild garlic leaves can be easily mistaken for Lily of the Valley, which is poisonous, so always be careful and crush the leaves to check for the garlic smell.

Wild Garlic Pesto

hey pesto!

hey pesto!

3 large handfuls of Wild Garlic Leaves (washed and dried)

1/2 cup walnuts

1 shallot or small onion

juice of half a lemon

1 clove garlic

3 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil

1 tsp salt


Blend it all up until it’s a smooth-ish bright green paste. Taste and add a little more salt or lemon juice if required.

Serve with pasta or vegan gnocci, spread on bread with hummus or use as a dip. Keeps in a jar in the fridge for about a week. Good for keeping vampires at bay! 


Just wear gloves when picking these prickly plants

Just wear gloves when picking these prickly plants

Stinging nettles seem to grow everywhere. They have a long history of culinary and medicinal uses, including being used as a remedy for arthritis. Nettles are rich in vitamin A, C, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium.

They are also very tasty, having a flavour somewhat similar to spinach, with a little perfumed floral hint to them.

Don’t be put of by their spikes, pick them using rubber gloves. Luckily for us they do not sting after they’ve been cooked or soaked in water.

Velvety Nettle Soup

( a Rose Elliot Recipe)

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 onion peeled and chopped

1 baking potato

4oz nettle tops

1L Vegetable Stock

Salt, pepper and nutmeg

Squeeze of lemon juice

vegan cream – optional


• Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the onion and potatoes, stir, then cover and cook for 5 minutes.
• Add the nettles, cover and cook for a further 5 minutes, then add the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for about 15 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
• Blend in a food processor or with a stick blender until completely smooth.
• Season with salt, pepper, grated nutmeg and a little squeeze of lemon juice to brighten the flavour – it needs strong seasoning.
• Delicious served either hot or chilled, with a swirl of vegan cream.

Vegan bring-and-share meal in Cheltenham

10 Feb

Gloucestershire vegans politely wait to pounce on this delicious spread

Gloucestershire Vegan Group brightened up a misty winter evening with a bring-and-share meal in Cheltenham. We have several of these meals during the year – where everyone brings along a dish of their choice. There is often is a real diversity of food at our events, reflecting the different cultures and tastes of the group, and showcasing the huge range of flavours and cuisines that vegan cooking encompasses.


We all brought a dish to share

At our group meals I often hear people expressing delight that they can eat any of the food on the table. Perhaps many of us are used to having to navigate our way around everyday social occasions, having to check with hosts about whether this or that food is suitable. An all-vegan get-together is a refreshing break from this inconvenience.

It was great to see lots of new faces at this event, and especially to meet vegans of all ages (from 17 to 80-odd!) and from all corners of Gloucestershire. Our events are open to anyone who is vegan or interested in veganism.

We chatted about what experiences led us to choose to be vegan or piqued our interest in veganism. Some became vegan overnight, after watching films exposing the realities of animal farming, others became vegan gradually, removing one animal-produced item from their lives at a time. We heard from some who were inspired to go vegan by a positive example set by friends/ acquaintances, who were already vegan and made it seem like a good choice.We also shared a little of our life-histories, and talked about how family and friends viewed veganism. There were some amongst us who had been vegan for over 20 years, some just a few months, and some who – though not vegan themselves – were interested or supportive.

fresh berry ice-cream

fresh berry ice-cream

Later our lovely hosts made a fresh berry ice-cream in their blender, which was a perfect accompaniment the puddings that had been contributed to the evening – home-made chocolate brownies and tarte tatin.

Here are some recipes, shared from the evening:


Vegan Spanakopita

vegan spanakopita

vegan spanakopita


Spanakopita is a Greek spinach pie, traditionally made with feta cheese, but it can easily be adapted to be suitable for vegans. This can be made in a twelve inch diameter springform pan, or in any other similar sized baking dish.



For the pie crust:

2 packs of filo pastry

Olive oil

For the creamy layers:

1/2 cup cashew nuts

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

1 pack firm tofu

1 tbsp dried basil

1 clove garlic

For the spinach layers:

3 cups cooked and drained spinach – fresh or frozen

1 medium sized potato, diced and boiled until soft

3/4 cup toasted flaked almonds

2 tbsp fresh dill chopped

1 cup parsley chopped

6 spring onions chopped

6 shallots chopped finely and fried until golden

2 tsp nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste


1. Preheat your oven to 170 degrees C. Blend the cashews, oil, garlic, salt and lemon juice until a smooth paste forms.

2. Add the tofu and blend until creamy, then stir in the basil

3. In a large mixing bowl, stir all of the spinach filling ingredients together and season with salt and pepper

4. Brush your pan with olive oil and layer with 6 sheets of filo, taking care to brush oil over each sheet as you add it

5. Add half of the spinach mixture to the pan, spreading it evenly

6. Add half the cashew-tofu mixture on top of the spinach and spread evenly

7. Now place 4 layers of filo pastry on top, brushing each sheet with olive oil

8. Repeat steps 5 & 6 using the remaining spinach and cashew mixture to form another two layers

9. Top with 6 more sheets of filo pastry, brushing each with oil, and fold in the edges of the sheets from the lower layers.

10. Bake for 35 mins at 170 degrees C, or until the top of the pie is deeply golden and crispy.

Tarte Tatin

Tarte Tatin

Tarte Tatin


1/2 cup vegan margerine

1 cup brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp cinnamon

3  star anise stars

1 pack of flaky pastry

3 apples, peeled, cored and sliced


1. Heat the margarine, sugar, cinnamon, star anise and vanilla in a large baking pan on a hob

2. Bring the mixture to a boil, and stir until it forms a thick syrup

3. Pop the apple slices in the syrup

4. Top with a sheet of flaky pastry

5. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees C for approx 25 mins

6. Remove from the oven, put a plate on top of the pan and turn the whole thing over very quickly, so that the syrup doesn’t have a chance to seep out from the sides and burn you!

Vegan Organic Growing – a trip to a local allotment

27 Aug

Enjoying a well-earned picnic after our walk from Stroud

On a rare sunny summer morning, Gloucestershire Vegans ventured on a hilly and occasionally swampy off-road route from Stroud to visit Amanda Godber’s vegan-organic allotment and to share a picnic.

As vegans our diet is entirely plant-based, which for some more curious vegans, makes it difficult to ignore where the plants we eat are grown and what processes go into their production.

Unfortunately we find that almost all of the vegetables we eat, even those organically produced are grown using the by-products of animal farming. Conventionally farmers use animal manure, slurry and also left-overs from the slaughterhouse or other animal industries such as blood, fish and bone. Not only does this sound unappealing (fancy a lettuce grown in abattoir floor-scrapings anyone?  – no I thought not.), but the sale of animal by-products to growers supports animal farming industries – something which vegans try to avoid. Using animal by-products to grow vegetables also increases the risk that animal-borne diseases spread to humans through the food supply. Fortunately we do not need animal by-products to grow fantastic veg and keep soil healthy and fertile.

Amanda giving us the tour

Amanda Godber is just one such person who is proving this to be the case. She is a experienced professional gardener who runs the inspiring local growing co-operative Down-to-Earth. They help people to grow their own veg in their own gardens, giving them confidence in growing, sharing knowledge and practical help. Her allotment is in Thrupp, a short walk out from the centre of Stroud on the brow of a steep and wooded hillside, looking out over Rodborough Common. She maintains the soil fertility by using home-made compost, created from plant matter such as grass-clippings and vegetable peelings.

shed of a compost guru!

Amanda is a composting guru, and gave a talk at the recent Edible Open Gardens explaining how she has several compost bays made from old pallets, which she fills with plant material and turns several times a year. She keeps the compost covered, to prevent it becoming too wet, and waters it during long dry spells. She never composts persistent weeds such as dandelions or bindweed, preferring to leave them in a bucket of water to rot. She allows self-seeded potatoes and nasturtiums to grow in her compost bins, which splay out from between the slats producing foliage and vivid orange flowers.

It is no wonder that Amanda takes her composting so seriously, as she relies on it to provide the fertility for her allotment veg. She uses it as a mulch layer on top of the soil, preferring not to dig it in and disturb the natural soil structure. Other vegan-organic growers use green-manures or mulches made from composted wood-chip, or straw, but Amanda prefers to make compost as she has a ready supply of garden ‘waste’ from her job.

pretty and practical: edible calendula flowers growing amongst vegetables

Amanda’s allotment is alive and bustling with vegetables – despite it being one of the worst years for gardening  anyone can ever remember. On the tour of her plot she showed us her greenhouse which has huge bunches of Pinot Noir grapes and a plump and wrinkled variety of tomato. She also showed us her wonderful runner beans, huge parsnip plants, multi-coloured sweetcorn and long blue squashes. All of these vegetables were nestled amongst vast colourful clumps of calendula, nasturtiums and feverfew. She grows flowers edible and otherwise amongst her vegetables to attract pollinating insects. She also has a wildlife area complete with small pond, hedgehog and toad houses, and a magpie bath. All of this she hopes will make her allotment more wildlife-friendly and attract natural predators to garden pests, which enables her to avoid using nasty products such as slug pellets.
There are a few other vegan-organic growers in the UK, some just growing for themselves on small allotment plots such as Amanda, others feeding the masses with farm-scale plots, producing veg-boxes and selling at farmer’s markets or shops. To find out more about vegan-organic growing techniques, visit the Vegan-Organic Network’s website. Or visit a vegan-organic farm: Tolhurst Organics is one of the nearest, and it often has open days organised by the Vegan-Organic Network.

Vegan About Stroud

5 Dec

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