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Guy's news: field banter & music festivals

This is being written in the Vendée, where the courgettes are growing so quickly that we have to pick them every day and even then the field is littered with discarded marrows that got away from us. The specification (35-50mm diameter) is the source of much mirth; my French is not up to much and I struggle to follow the field banter, but it seems to centre around the women having a more realistic estimate of size. When the courgettes are finished it is onto the bunched carrots; here the jokes are all about “carrottes amoureuses” where two roots have followed the same fissure down through the soil and become entwined. They are the happiest workforce I have ever known. The only other work around here is pulling the guts out of ducks at the local abattoir so perhaps it is not surprising that they seem so happy to be out in the fields.

I travelled down via London and the V&A where, amongst statues, jewels and porcelain, we collected the Observer Best Ethical Online Retailer award to add to the Best Ethical Business and Best Ethical Restaurant we won last year; most gratifying. Thanks to those of you who voted for us.

The yurt-housed Travelling Field Kitchen has been on the road for a month now, first in Hampshire and more recently at Freightliners City Farm in London. The food has been fantastic and the atmosphere harmonious and joyful. Logistically it is as difficult as getting a crusade to Jerusalem, but the contented hubbub of conversation from 80 well-fed diners reminds me why we embarked on this crazy project in the first place. At the end of July we take our yurt to WOMAD (23rd-25th July). As well as running a pared-down version of the restaurant in the mornings, we are sponsoring the Taste the World stage where, after performing on the main stages, musicians from all over the world come to cook, tell stories and play the occasional song to small and intimate audiences before sharing food with them. If, like me, you are a bit crowd phobic, with an eclectic taste in music, I cannot recommend WOMAD highly enough; it is a very civilised experience.

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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 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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