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Environment & ethics   |   Ethical business

Wicked Leeks: Glad to be proved wrong

While visiting Devon as an agricultural journalist to write a story about foraging samphire, Nina needed little encouragement to wade across 400 metres of mud and swim in the river skirting the marsh. She asked difficult questions, wasn’t fobbed off with easy answers, and was unimpressed by my anecdotes. So, we offered her the job of creating, writing, and editing our online magazine, which she named Wicked Leeks.

It seemed like a hopeless idea to me, but others, including my sister and then marketing director, Rachel, were keen – so I stayed quiet, and ever since, I have been proved wrong. With scant resources, but plenty of determination, Wicked Leeks has gained a loyal following while still in its infancy. It has also begun to influence positive change, bringing the realities of food and farming to light for more informed decision-making – including raising public awareness of a petition on food standards that eventually gained over a million signatures.

To those of you who might ask ‘Why a magazine?’, I struggle to give a good answer; it wasn’t my idea. An overpaid but irritatingly right marketing consultant told us repeatedly that we were starting a movement. Movements need a voice, and given my advancing years, it should not be mine. Nina has sole editorial control, and has gathered a range of contributors. It took me a while to accept that it doesn’t matter if I disagree with some of them.

The hope is that this voice of a movement will help us find a way towards more sustainable food and farming. Wicked Leeks probably asks more questions than it answers, but it also gives some hope that change is possible. I resent every penny spent on conventional marketing, particularly with Google and Facebook, so obviously we also hope that the magazine gets us better known by those who care about their food; our marketing tends to be more about starting conversations, doing new and interesting things, and encouraging debate than overt sales.

Wicked Leeks is mostly online, but every quarter we do a limited print run – and this time we’ve pushed the boat out and included a copy in some of our veg boxes. If you miss it, the digital publication is available to all online at issuu.com/wickedleeks-magazine. We hope you enjoy it.

    Comments

    adam42

    4 Weeks

    Presumably Guy is in on the wikileaks pun? May I humbly suggest you send Julian Assange in Belmarsh Prison a fruit box or something similar to keep his spirits up? By all accounts he is on the wrong end of a Kafka-esque nightmare.

    0 Reply

    DaveA

    4 Weeks

    Hello Guy. A great read, thank you! As a regular for the weekly veg box I have always enjoyed the paper based blog / rant over toast and a coffee. So having thought why isn't this stuff online somewhere I actively sought back issues and came upon Wicked Leaks. Please let everyone know about it via the box insert and save on the Google / Facebook spend! I do think that the current situation is making people think more, even those already bought into the Riverford philosophy. Despite the current challenges in our little corner of Exmoor we are attempting to make a difference to support local and promote local. If you're interested in a grass roots initiative please check https://shop.parracombe.org.uk

    0 Reply

    Guy Singh-Watson

    Self-confessed veg nerd, Guy Singh-Watson has over the last 30 years taken Riverford from one man and a wheelbarrow delivering homegrown organic veg to friends, to a national veg box scheme delivering to around 55,000 customers a week. Guy is an opinionated and admired figure in the world of organic farming, who still spends more time in the fields than in the boardroom. Twice awarded BBC Radio 4 Farmer of the Year, Guy is passionate about sharing with others the organic farming and business knowledge he has accumulated over the last three decades. His weekly veg box newsletters connect customers to the farm with refreshingly honest accounts of the trials and tribulations of producing organic food, and the occasional rant about farming, ethical and business issues he feels strongly about. In June 2018, Guy handed over the reins of Riverford to its staff, choosing employee ownership as the model that will protect Riverford's ethical values forever and ensure the security of its employees.

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