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Guy’s news: Rampant vegetation & bucolic harmony

Last night I dreamt of being entombed in rampant foliage under an impenetrable forest. After a wet June, Devon is cloaked in luxuriant vegetation; branches and hedgerows are sagging into roads under the weight of it and paths walked freely a week before soak legs with encroaching dewy nettles and cow parsley. Most years a lack of moisture is restricting growth by now but, with the sun at its zenith, the air steamy with humidity and soil temperatures still climbing, growth shows no signs of slowing. Anyone trying to manage it, be they gardeners or farmers, will be able to interpret my dream.

In my early years as a grower, June would typically bring feelings of panic and occasional despair as plans which seemed so achievable when conceived in January’s hibernation disappeared under weeds. Of course real wisdom lies in appreciating untidy diversity; working with nature with minimal intervention rather than fighting it with mowers and herbicides (for some). Such heady and bucolic harmony is our aim, and we’re getting closer, but we would still lose the good fight without our tractors; yet for the last two weeks they have been parked up, waiting for the soil to be dry enough to support them without compacting it. The weeds, which we like to hoe from their roots in vulnerable infancy, are getting a hold and will be harder to kill; leek, cabbage and lettuce plants are stacking up in the yard and our sowing programme is disrupted.

A cause for concern, but nothing that a few dry days will not sort out. The inevitable mud is clinging to veg and no doubt to your kitchen and fridge; we avoid washing veg where possible, partly as it keeps bettter that way and partly to remind you of its origin, but is it time to reassess? Opinions welcome.

In case this sounds like a farmer’s moan, I should say that most crops are as lush as the hedges; so despite a little woe it looks like being a pretty good year.

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    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 50,000 customers a week. Guy is an inspirational, passionate, 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 video rants have provided a powerful platform to do this, with a video on pesticides going viral on Facebook to reach 5.6 million views and 91,000 shares. 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.  

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