Veganic Farmers


Bob Balfour

Our Veganic Farmers are True to Nature

Far-seeing is a word we like to apply to our generous and principled farmers. Not just because we often find them looking out with pride over their abundant fields. It’s because of another kind of vision, the innate sense they have that farming veganically is the right thing to do — for the land, for consumers, and for the planet.

Their veganic techniques reflect the same key concepts agricultural pioneer Bill Mollison uses to describe the idea of permaculture: “Working with, rather than against nature,” along with “protracted and thoughtful observation” of nature and natural systems.

Three of our Canadian veganic farmers are good examples of this respectful, educated approach to farming. Bob Balfour of Saskatchewan supplies lentils for One Degree’s veganic bread. He has learned to build nutrients in the soil with a proven approach to crop rotations, which involves alternating cereal, wheat, lentils, peas, oats and barley. The result is soil that is rich enough to provide all the nutrients a plant needs to fight off weeds and insects, and thrive.

Arnold SchmidtIn the same province, farmer Arnold Schmidt supplies a bountiful harvest of white wheat for One Degree breads, cereals and flour. “The best method I’ve found is planting wheat and rye together, spring wheat and fall rye,” he says. In this process, parcels are given time to lie fallow, allowing bacteria and enzymes to build nutrients.

Arnold has been using this particular rotation for the past five years, and he reports that the nutrient value of his soil is much higher than fields that use animal by-products for fertilization. “There’s nothing higher in nutrient value that I’ve found. Manure doesn’t even get close to that. Manure is only as good as the crop that the animals ate, or the grain they ate. Nowadays much of the grains, hay and grass fed to animals is so low in nutrients.”

Jed FranklinBritish Columbia farmer Jed Franklin has similarly found that the direct approach to enriching soil is best for both land and people. “All the nitrogen you get from whatever source comes from plants,” he observes. “Even if it’s manure, it originally came from the plant.” Adding legumes to his crop rotation fixes nitrogen in the soil, and ensures that the flax he supplies to One Degree is a resilient crop, full of nutrients.

Like Bob, Arnold and all of our thoughtful farmers, Jed proves every day that there is a practical alternative to farming with chemicals, compounds and animal by-products: Working with nature, and learning its lessons