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.