When is vegan not completely vegan?

Can products be a bit vegan – or is that like being “slightly pregnant”? We’re asked from time to time if our preserves are vegan – and the answer is not quite as simple as you might imagine. On the one hand, our preserves are entirely plant-based, and we don’t handle any dairy or meat ingredients in our kitchen. So in that sense, yes, our preserves are all vegan.

However, we grow a lot of our own crops, and every few years we do use animal manure in our compost and on our vegetable beds. This adds nutrients to the soil, and increases the biological activity in the soil itself – which helps the plants take up those nutrients. The manure we use comes either from our own small flock of free range hens, or is picked from horse fields at a local stables. While neither of those are intensive farming, they do both involve keeping animals for the benefit of humans…so if you are a strict vegan you may not be happy with that. We also have bee hives on the farm, to help with pollination and to produce a small amount of honey – again, some people would object to keeping bees for the benefit of humans. We do keep the bees going over the winter though, unlike some of the larger-scale fruit producers who destroy the hives at the end of the season.

So in answer to the question about whether or not preserves are vegan : in terms of ingredients – yes; in terms of gardening methods – not quite.