Guy’s Newsletter: feeling good about ourselves

Our veg boxes have just been voted Ethical Product of the Decade at the Observer Ethical Awards; wow, quite an accolade. I am still smiling. Thanks to those of you who voted and to all of you who have supported us over the decade, and in many cases, longer. I like to think that we offer a positive alternative to mainstream food production, but without your trust and occasional forgiveness it would have been hard to resist the calls for compromise, especially during the recession. Turning ethical intentions into ethical business is often simply down to taking the long view and having faith that you (or someone else) will be around long enough to see the benefit. Investing in our collective long-term future, whether in staff conditions and development, supplier relationships, energy efficiency or building soil fertility normally makes sense commercially (as well as ethically and environmentally), but you also need patience and the comfort of not having shareholders and bankers clamouring for short-term returns.

We’ve had a great start to the summer with some very good quality bumper crops. Some of that is down to good fortune (mainly good weather), but there’s a large element of making your own luck in farming, by making the right decisions through experience, good planning, being on top of the work and therefore being able to do things at the right time. In the next three weeks we will plant most of the winter crops; timing is critical and we are bang on schedule and no-one (with the possible exception of the irrigation team) even seems to be stressed; a long way from the chaos of old. How did we learn so much, collect so much skill and organise it so well, so seemingly effortlessly? I reckon doing things ethically has a lot to do with it; our staff like it and are proud to work here.

In 30 years we’ve grown into a big-ish company and at times I’ve worried that this would make us less human, less caring and a bit boring. Last Saturday, witnessing our summer staff party (possibly the best yet) being enjoyed by so many convinced me that big often is, but doesn’t have to be, bad. Scale can help you do things better; whether organising a party, logistics, or managing pest/predator balance in tomatoes. Yes, I’m feeling a little pleased with myself but enough of that. I’m a farmer and better go find something to be miserable about.

Guy Watson

5 responses to “Guy’s Newsletter: feeling good about ourselves

  1. Janet Campbell

    Way to go Guy!

  2. Patricia Thorns

    Congratulations to you and your team. Your success is well deserved and your customers feel that they share in your achievement.

  3. Linda Broadbent

    Congratulations to all at Riverford on the latest award. And so good to hear about the staff party, a nice reward for everyone’s hard work. But don’t forget to add the ‘customer’ and ‘service to your customers’ into your list of key areas of the business to invest in. I think this omission says it all, really.

  4. Trish Stableford

    So glad we discovered Riverford when we did! Buying from you is one of the things that make me feel a little bit hopeful that we’ll have a healthy world to pass on to the next generations.

    It’s great that you all keep receiving these awards. What a way to keep yourselves in the public eye!

  5. I get excited when I hear from those who care for the environment as much as I do. I’m particularly glad to hear of you caring for the soil and building it up as much as you can. We have all been deprived the vital trace elements we need to be healthy and Riverford is looking to put these back in the veg we eat. Well done and more power to your ‘elbow’!

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