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Logs, ideology and the NFU

I am trying to balance out the misery of Brexit planning by picking purple sprouting broccoli (PSB), or, if things get really bad, splitting logs. A bit reminiscent of teenage tantrums, but at least it is filling my log store. Like many, I find it hard to believe our politicians could fail us so badly, but my faith that maturity and pragmatism will prevail over posturing and ideological dogmatism is waning. Although we hope and anticipate that these plans will never be used, we are preparing for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit on March 29th.

In that event, you will still get your boxes, but may have to accept some rooty repetition and reduced availability for the first two weeks of April (the UK’s ‘hungry gap’, when winter crops are over and summer’s are weeks off). In anticipation of possibly clogged Channel crossings for those first two weeks, we are covered for nothing getting through from Europe other than lettuce from our farm in France. At home, we will hold back leeks and spring greens in the field, and build stocks of roots, cauliflowers and PSB. Plymouth to Roscoff, where freight volumes are low, has the best chance of running anything like normally, so perhaps Riverford is lucky to be based in the west. We are of course stocking up on fuel, packaging, and so on.

These precautions should get us through the first fortnight. If supermarkets are virtually bare of anything fresh in the first week, that should stir up action; there is nothing like a food riot to force politicians to act. Hopefully solutions will be found by week two.

More optimistically, last week we were visited by Minette Batters: the newly elected first woman president of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU). Having spent years despairing of the NFU’s complacent conservatism (obstructing public access to land and discouraging new, un-landed entrants or any challenge to the overuse of pesticides and antibiotics), I was heartened to hear her belief that farmers “need to take back control of our industry from the agrochemical and pharmaceutical industries”. Well done to her and all the farmers who voted for her. I would love to be part of a united industry, and might even consider renewing my membership if parts of the NFU websites stop looking like an ad for Bayer-Monsanto.



1 Year 5 Months

Bravo Minette Batters. we are currently slobbing it in Costa Rica where, really, we could learn so much. Massively organic; recycling a matter of course; noticeably little rubbish on roadsides and in streets. They have banned smoking in public places, banned hunting of wild animals; banned cutting down trees. Protection of land from further incursions of the massive corporates. It’s not perfect, but they are making a real and brave effort. And our UK government are allowing huge development on GreenBelt land.

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1 Year 3 Months

We really do need to rethink our whole economy don't we.Perhaps the shame up of credit will give us a chance to break free from where we are now and become a more responsible society. I do hope so.

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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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