John Watson, of Riverford Farm, Staverton, and father of Riverford founder Guy Singh-Watson, died quietly on 4 January 2019, after seven decades as part of the South Devon landscape.
As a young post-war farmer, he arrived to take up the tenancy of 120 acres at Riverford in 1951, with 20 Ayrshire cows, little practical experience and high ideals. His seven decades of innovative living and pioneering thinking started with his introduction of the first tractor to a farm previously worked by horses, and concluded with an experiment in low-carbon communal living on a small holding.
He and his wife Gillian produced five children and with them a fist of food and farming enterprises: Riverford Farm, the Riverford Organic Dairy; Ben’s Farm Shops (and Wine and Tapas Bar), the Riverford veg box business and Field Kitchen farm restaurant.
He leaves two daughters and three sons, all working in the family businesses, fourteen grandchildren and one great granddaughter. We will run a longer profile of this influential and inspiring figure in the next week or two.