The rain came and went, leaving our soils recharged and our crops refreshed; just as we started to worry it would never stop, a week of dry weather allowed us to make silage and catch up on the sowing. I have to pinch myself lest we take this faultless weather for granted, but the near-perfect year continues.
After eight weeks of foraging for wild garlic in the woods, our nimble-fingered and flexible team of youths have had a short break before starting this week on marsh samphire. With wild garlic the challenge is avoiding the toxic weeds that share the same shady habitat, and then carrying the boxes out of the often steep woods. With samphire the challenge is the tide and the extreme fiddliness of the task. On a good day a picker may manage 10kg before being driven off the marsh by the incoming tide; they often end up paddling the crop to the margin in a canoe. The marshes are remote and staggeringly beautiful and occasionally I achieve a state of bliss when picking but, to my shame, my mind keeps trying to invent a machine to aid harvest. All my inventions so far have been discarded in favour of scissors and garden shears but I keep sketching inventions; the sign of a Zen-less Henry Ford-like mind.
One of the advantages of doing our own deliveries via your local veg team (rather than contracting out to drivers in the burgeoning “gig” delivery economy) is that we get our packaging back, so can ensure it is re-used or recycled. Our boxes are made from 98% recycled materials, are 100% recyclable and often used ten times or more but, counter-intuitively, still account for a larger carbon footprint than our road transport. The single biggest thing you can do to reduce the environmental impact of your fruit and veg (and help us keep prices down) is to fold the box (the bottom goes down, not up) and leave it out for your driver to collect. We are also starting to use silver bags cooled with ice packs to help look after chilled products better; we can use these many times if you put them out too. We cannot re-use other Riverford bags so, if your local authority recycles plastic bags please let them; if not put them (just ours please) in the empty box and we will recycle, and so close that loop.