Riverford Wicked Leeks

Peter Wastenage

Peter has never really been one for using chemicals on his farm. For years and years before he actually formally became an organic farm in 1997 he had been “two thirds of the way there”.

“Suddenly people started offering organic milk contracts, and I thought, hang on, we’re nearly organic now, let’s do it,” he says.

Peter’s farm is nearly 800 acres and he produces a huge range of crops, from cereals to vegetables – including cauliflowers, leeks, potatoes, butternut squash, sweet corn and parsnips for Riverford. “We try and make sure we have something to harvest every month of the year,” says Peter. Going organic has been a great move for Peter, and he feels the switch has proved to him that many chemicals are unnecessary in farming.“I wasn’t really that cynical about all the fertilizer and drug companies before I went organic, but I am now,” he says. “They said we had to use their products, but we’ve proved that you can be perfectly successful without them.”Peter says it’s all about the animals and crops you choose, and how you manage them.

“We have cows that are crosses – part Jersey, part Frisian, part Shorthorn,” he says. “They’re stronger and fitter than pure-breeds. You never have to take a mongrel dog to the vet, and it’s like that with our stock.“We’re trying to farm using a holistic, self-contained system. Worldwide commodity prices are going through the roof and it makes both environmental and economic sense to do as much for ourselves as we can. “I’m particularly optimistic about the future of organics at the moment. The future is looking good.”