Guy’s news: Samphire canoes & cold milk

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.

Guy Watson

12 responses to “Guy’s news: Samphire canoes & cold milk

  1. Guy, Whilst on the topic of recycling in your blog I was wondering whether there might be a way of enabling people to opt out of the paper Recipe / Bog that’s always added to my box. I always read you blog on line the week before via the weekly email and we don’t keep the recipes (delicious though I’m sure they are!). Just a thought and might reduce both printing cost as well as a few trees. Thanks, Nigel

  2. Apologies – I did of course mean ‘Blog’ not ‘Bog’. No intended use of said paper and your excellent blog inferred!

  3. Any chance of recycling the eggboxes?

    • Hi Jane, we can’t re-use them but they are completely recyclable!

      • My mother buys her eggs on a market in her home town in Germany. As is the local custom she brings her egg carton along and the stall holder puts in the eggs she buys. However, he politely declined her offer of spare cartons and explained that EU rules forbid him to re-use them for other customers. So I suspect Riverford have no choice in the matter.

  4. Howard Carter (Incognito)

    Please keep the recipe blog cards as we find it a way of connecting with nature when cooking rather than computers in the kitchen.
    We love that we can recycle everything we receive from you, including the recipe cards that don’t get saved!
    Fingers crossed for the fine weather to continue

  5. I do not find the boxes convenient at all. I am disabled and both me and my carer struggle to collapse them. I live in a very small apartment with very limited storage so for me they are just a nuisance hanging around taking up space for a week! I have asked that my veg be transferred to a carrier on the doorstep and hope this alleviate the problem .

  6. I often wonder why plastic bags are used for certain items in the veg boxes and is it really necessary to use so much packaging in general – nearly every item in my box comes in its own paper /plastic bag or cardboard box in addition to the main box?

  7. I don’t use all the recipe cards, but any unused are shredded and (with the rest of our shreddings) put on the compost heap. For those of us who have one, the shreddings rot down well and support/mix well with all the rest of our compost materials from the garden etc.

  8. Quite frankly I don’t fret about it because it’s all recycled.

    I prefer my fruit and veg packaged exactly as at present, not wanting the fruit speared by asparagus etc. and carrots apparently keep well in plastic bags.

    I’m still daydreaming about a one-off collapsible pair of plastic boxes (in pink 🙂

    Probably not green enough yet but I’m working on it :O)

  9. Why can’t you use recyclable pots for your yoghurt?

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