Celebrating Organic September with Riverford…
2017 marks 30 years since founder Guy Watson began growing organic vegetables on his parents’ South Devon farm and selling vegetable boxes to the local community. Three decades on and Riverford grow and deliver around 50,000 boxes a week of veg and more to homes nationwide.
Farming organically isn’t always easy, but to Riverford it’s all about working towards a sustainable food system – farming with nature by looking after the soil, the environment and the welfare of animals. We spoke to Guy about what ‘organic’ means to him and Riverford;
“Organic means working with nature, not against it – farming with minimal impact on the countryside and soil. Crop rotation encourages a healthy soil structure and shallow ploughing means minimal disruption to the delicate soil structure. It also means producing food with minimal environmental impact. No system of farming does more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Farming without artificial pesticides means that organic farms provide a rich habitat for wildlife. Bees, butterflies, birds, bugs and more are abundant on our farm. Mature hedgerows, reservoirs and healthy soil are just a few more of the reasons why the Riverford farm is teeming with life.
We work with small-scale West Country farmers for their brilliant meat, and dairy produce comes from The Riverford Dairy, a stone’s throw away from our main farm. The cows do a good job of making sure nothing goes to waste at Riverford; any graded out veg that isn’t good enough to be eaten is happily consumed by them – broccoli is their favourite!
Varieties at Riverford are always chosen for flavour, rather than for yield or cosmetic perfection. Organic growers are not limited to growing varieties that respond best to artificial fertilisers, usually at the expense of flavour, which results in extremely carroty carrots, and potatoes like your grandad used to grow. Our award-winning mini cucumbers are a shining example of this. Growing in organic, nutrient-rich soil makes all the difference. If you think cucumbers are bland and tasteless, we will make you think again!
Ultimately, buying organic food means much more than just reducing pesticide exposure. It’s produced as nature intended, with minimal intervention, resulting in food with wonderful flavour and that you can feel good about eating. For myself, and Riverford, it’s the best show in town, and that’s why we’ve stayed true to it since day one”.