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Guy's news: to autumn

Autumn newsletters seldom escape some reference to mists and mellow fruitfulness. In two hundred years no one has evoked a grower’s September satisfaction better than Keats in the first verse of ‘To Autumn’. As a philistine farmer I never get beyond the first line, but such is the diversity of our workforce that one particularly beautiful autumn morning while harvesting a particularly bountiful crop of squash, we were treated to a perfect rendition of all three verses from an otherwise subdued field worker. It was many years ago and I can’t remember his name but I can remember exactly where I was in that field on top of a hill looking down on the clearing mist in the valley, the satisfying weight of the gourds and a feeling of overwhelming harmony and wellbeing.

Like many growers I love autumn; when we reap the rewards of summer’s work, when dews last longer, the sun is gentle and things slow down, affording a chance to savour. After a miserable July and August the dry, sunny weather we have enjoyed recently is particularly welcome. The bounty is spectacular, almost worrying: leeks, corn, cabbages, broccoli, carrots, potatoes, beans, spinach and chard are rolling in by the trailer load; to the extent that for the first time ever we are planning to export some surplus to a box scheme in Denmark. Mercifully, as the days shorten and night temperatures drop, growth is slowing down so I am pretty confident it will all find space on a plate somewhere.

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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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