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Guy’s news: woe, woe & more woe

It is going to be a long and hungry Hungry Gap. Planting is going well on our French farm and we will cut our first outdoor lettuce at the end of March, but at home we are waiting for the elusive dry spell. We managed to spread some muck last week, but are yet to plant anything other than a few broad beans.

We have now used all the autumn-harvested carrots from our co-op, apart from ten acres stuck in heavy soil which, in retrospect, was perhaps not suitable for a late harvested root crop in damp Devon. It has been an extraordinary winter; not so much in the quantity of rain but in its relentlessness. While we wait for the land to dry enough to allow harvest machinery to travel and sift the soil, your organic carrots will be coming from Scotland. They are not the best (they were grown for supermarkets and hence more for shape than flavour), but we reckon they taste just about OK.

Our real challenge over the next two months will be greens. Due to the mild autumn and winter, kale, cabbage, spring greens, cauliflower and leeks have all matured early, creating impending shortages at the end of the season. These troubles have been compounded by losing cauliflowers to waterlogging and purple sprouting broccoli to head rot brought on by too much damp and not enough sunlight. We did have a back-up plan in the form of a crop of ‘thousand head’ kale which could be diverted from the cows in the case of a year of shortage; sadly even though it is known as the hardiest of kales, it too succumbed to disease in the damp. There is a good chance of a late rally in April but the only way to keep the boxes full and balanced this month is to look south; it pains me to do it, but there will be cauliflower and cavolo nero from Italy and broad beans and peas from Spain in your boxes until we get ourselves sorted out. I am resigned to the necessity of bringing in tomatoes and peppers, but importing kale is near sacrilege, especially when it is not as good as our own. Roll on spring and the first crop of greens from France.

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    Guy Singh-Watson

    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 80,000 customers a week. Tired of meetings, brands and the assumption that greed is our predominant motivation, Guy converted the business to employee ownership in 2018, using the proceeds to buy a small farm and return to growing organic vegetables. In common with many of Riverford’s new co-owners, Guy is an advocate of using business to shape a part of the world, however small, to be kinder, more considerate and sustainable; more like the world most of us want to live in.  His weekly newsletters connect people 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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