Thanks to all of you who have offered support following our appearance on Countryfile in my bid to become the BBC’s Farmer of the Year. If you are sufficiently interested, there was also a more in depth interview on Radio 4 (www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01n98v3).
And another thanks to the hundreds of you who responded to last week’s newsletter about my plans for Riverford becoming stakeholder owned. Behavioural science provides a wealth of evidence that greed is a very poor way of getting the best from people; for a compelling 10 minute overview, see Dan Pink at www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc. The world would be a better place if more people found the confidence to encourage our desires for collective purpose, personal autonomy and the innate need to learn and do things better. It’s a big challenge, but I would love to find a system of management and ownership that harnesses these motivations. The hundreds of comments on Facebook and by email give me renewed determination that Riverford must always be owned by those who shape its future: customers, staff and suppliers. I have been working on this for six years and still have a way to go. In the meantime, with your support, we are so lucky to be able to farm and run the business in accordance with our values. Most of the profits that we make are re-invested and those that do leave the business go mostly as a staff profit share.
Enough ideological ranting; what about the vegetables? We have just finished harvesting in France. The new tunnels are half up and we start planting again in January. Despite a grim summer the chillies have cropped very well; so well that we are drying quite a few and I am hoping some of you will have a go at making chilli strings for home drying. They are available now; £3.75 will buy you a half kilo bag of chillies (about 30 chillies) and instructions. All you need is a large-eyed needle and strong thread, eg. buttonhole. They will keep for months, providing a ready supply for your cooking. They look so bright and cheerful I like to decorate my Christmas tree with them.