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Guy's news: planting & irrigating again

There was a time last month when I started to wonder if we would ever experience summer again. Under the prevailing gloom and continuing deluge, accompanied by an almost eerie absence of birdsong and insects, one could easily lose faith in the perpetual return of life to our fields. Without the enlightenment of the Met Office, one might consider appeasing angry gods by the sacrifice of a virgin, a goat or at least Owen Paterson. After two weeks of glorious sunshine, the grass is finally growing, the hedges are bursting with life and we are enjoying the last flush of old season crops, while we hectically plant, and believe it or not, irrigate as fast as we can pump the water.

Hurrah! In a triumph for bees and the independence of science, our Environment Secretary and the chaps from Syngenta were defeated last week by an EU commission vote, which will now restrict the use of neonicotinoids on flowering crops. To descend to the Defra position, where nature is expendable unless it can be demonstrated incontrovertibly that it is worth saving on economic grounds, would be hugely depressing. It makes me ashamed to be human and even more ashamed to be British. Thankfully there was more enlightenment elsewhere in Europe – as well as a great number of passionate Brits campaigning here.

This will be the last week for cauliflower, leeks, old season potatoes and purple sprouting broccoli. These crops have been growing or in store for almost a year; our plant breeders have done their best to delay the rush to seed, but with lengthening days and rising temperatures, nothing can restrain the desire to procreate. The new season crops are doing well under fleece and under the tunnels we have been busy planting tomatoes, cucumber, basil and beans. The first of the cucumbers and rhubarb will be picked this week.

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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 50,000 customers a week. Guy is an inspirational, passionate, 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 video rants have provided a powerful platform to do this, with a video on pesticides going viral on Facebook to reach 5.6 million views and 91,000 shares. 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.  

    Can business be a force for good?

    Guy Singh-Watson on why he chose employee ownership to protect the future of Riverford.

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