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Guy's news: Growing your own?

According to our customer survey, a staggering 43% of you are growing some of your own vegetables. The potatoes may succumb to blight, gooseberries be defoliated by sawfly and lettuces devoured by slugs, but that is not the point. However gnarled, nibbled and diminutive those vegetables, in their naked simplicity they will be the most revered food to enter the kitchen. They will bring a connection to nature and the seasons, and an appreciation of the wasteful triviality of cosmetic perfection and season-defying variety. The trials and tribulations of their cultivation will challenge arrogance and nurture a healthy sense of vulnerability and humility. I could go on to suggest that gardening will make you a better person, but you have probably already written me off as a hopeless hippy.

Of course this could be a problem for us, especially at this time of year when our fields and those gardens are both entering their most abundant season. To make matters worse, when the more successful gardeners have a flush of runner beans or courgettes they tend to give the surplus to neighbours, friends and relatives. What can we do in the face of such admirable, community-building, planet-saving generosity? We should probably sell seeds, plants and compost and maybe we will next year. In the meantime, let me point out to those of you who have us filed under V for veg, that we sell so much more; it will be a while before you have bananas and oranges with a house cow tethered out back. Of course if that green fingered neighbour has just dropped round a trug of courgettes and we deliver more the next day this might be a trifle trying, but the box scheme really is flexible. You can check what will be in your box from the previous Thursday, and change boxes or skip a week if there are overlaps. You can even choose not to have a box at all and simply top up your harvest with a bespoke order if you spend £15.

If my best efforts have failed to convince you that there is a place for us alongside the allotment, then I wish you an abundantly satisfying and satisfyingly abundant season, and hope that you come back in the autumn. You could even tell us when we can ring or email to harass you again.

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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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