Guy’s news – Family, fuzz & metamorphosis

30 years ago, I returned to my parents’ farm for Christmas as a disillusioned management consultant. I never planned to stay but, from the cocoon of family, the fuzz of Christmas and metamorphosis of New Year I emerged as a suit-free vegetable grower. I don’t recall how or why; it was a decision born in the heart, the gut, or maybe even the stars.

The following three decades of pursuing my passion with only minor compromise feels like a life of indulgence. Farming, and vegetables in particular, can be a soul-crushing master on a bad day but the rewards of doing something so tangible, so close to nature and with such daily autonomy have easily compensated. On a good day an extraordinary peace can descend, something I suspect is unknown to management consultants. It was the best decision I ever made.

A second good decision came with starting the box scheme 25 years ago. Things could, and almost certainly would, have gone so wrong if we’d stuck with selling to the supermarkets. There is not much autonomy to be found in being at the metaphorical end of a buyer’s boots, or indulging their tantrums. Without you, our loyal and sometimes forgiving customers, Riverford would have slipped below the sod long ago.

We planned to give you all some popcorn grown on our farm in France for Christmas, but a damp autumn and a plague of corn borers have determined otherwise, so I hope mere words are an acceptable substitution.

Wishing you merry feasting and a good metamorphosis, should you be seeking one.

Guy Singh-Watson

45 responses to “Guy’s news – Family, fuzz & metamorphosis

  1. Thank you Guy. Happy you made that decision…makes a big difference in this household.

  2. Love reading your blogs Guy, thank goodness you made the right decision. Look forward to order, although it isn’t big, the contents are superb and I bless you every time. Long may you last. Merry Christmas.

  3. Thank you. Going organic has been rewarding to me in so many ways. Wishing all at Riverford a merry Christmas.

  4. Thank you Guy for following your gut! Am new to your scheme but the relief we feel is huge and the produce superb. Well done and a very happy Christmas to all.

  5. I live in France, but the family are in Bedford and they receive the organic boxes. I too love reading the weekly reports. Guy writes so well and each is a message from his heart (or soul). I agree with Wendy – may God bless you this Christmas. I’m sure He was leading you to take the decision to farm- you have become a blessing to many through your decision. Organic farming’s roots were laid down in the Old Testament you know. ‘As part of your equipment have something to dig with, and when you relieve yourself, dig a hole and cover up your excrement.’ Deuteronomy 23v13 If only people had followed this advice through the ages and not thrown waste into rivers….the earth would be producing enough for all and more of its people. 80 % of the world’s diseases are caused by dirty water supplies.

  6. A happy Christmas to all at Riverford. We also appreciate being able to get an organic box and are grateful to the drivers who find their way round our hilly village.

  7. Our world would have been a poorer and less green place with out our boxes and we really appreciate the amount of work and preparation on a daily basis that is put into the whole scheme. many many thanks to you all

  8. Dear Guy, Thank you for all your rants, and all your passion for organic food production! I have recently adopted a paleo diet for health reasons and Riverford veg and meat have been a godsend. I am also very grateful to those corn borers – my special diet excludes maize/corn, and anyway I don’t like popcorn! There is a silver lining to your cloud. Thanks and Merry Yuletide wishes to all at Riverford, and long may your enterprise continue…

  9. I love reading your thoughts/rants, Guy – it’s great to have an insight into what really goes into – and into growing – my food!
    The story of your metamorphosis is particularly poignant given my life just now, so thank you for that – I’m also very glad you made that choice!
    Many thanks to everyone involved in bringing me my veg!
    May you all enjoy a splendiferous Christmas, and a new year with all the right weather!

  10. Liz & Malcolm Ward

    Fell about at the idea of your being a management consultant! Just wrong. So glad you found your vocation, Guy; Riverford is a fabulous business. Have a wonderful Christmas.

  11. Dear Guy,
    I really enjoy your blogs with the great insight to the modern farming world,
    and feel rather guilty that I am not buying your boxes, but grow a lot myself
    and have a local supplier of free range poultry and eggs (when own bird resting).
    As a wartime school-leaver I went straight on to a farm with Jersey cows and fabulous mixtures of grass and clover in leys under corn. Happy now to
    look back on those days and feel that the tide is turning in the right direction .
    Wishing you and all around a very Happy Christmas and prosperous New Year.
    Milly

  12. Right back atcha Guy!

  13. Been a box customer since 2003-and am amazed at the range of wonderful produce-and recipes that are easy to follow.

  14. Dear Guy, Like all the other writers I’m glad you farmed as you do and do your
    best to turn the tide in favour of organics. At the end of the war when I began gardening organically people like Lady Eve Balfour and other less well remembered farmers were sure that the organic route was the one we would follow. Best wishes to your family and all your teams for Christmas and 2018. PLEASE keep up the good work Betty Dawes

  15. Beautifully expressed, as always, Guy – your message warms my heart. We so appreciate the food we get from Riverford – thank you! Happy Christmas to all the team and to your families.

  16. Lesley Somerville

    Thank you for all the decisions you have made, on behalf of us all. As you can tell, there’s a lot of well-deserved love and admiration coming your way. I’ve been a customer since 2002 (I think) and have never regretted that particular decision of my own!
    Festive greetings to you and all the Riverford family

  17. Happy Christmas to you all at wonderful Riverford. We so love Veg Day and will miss it while away. Love the new onion nets, veg hints and recipes and Guy’s news. Riverford Rocks.

  18. Thank you so much for all your work and commitment. I’ve been a customer for 7 years and have been so impressed. Fantastic vegetables, friendly customer support and a flexible and easy online ordering system. Well done and thank you to everyone that work at Riverford. Solstice Blessings.

  19. Guy, you have a way with words as well as with soils and their flora. I think there will be others, like me, who identified with the way you related that unaccountable discovery of our true calling, and the way you forsook a direction that seemed attractive to begin with, but was actually empty.
    Our thanks to you for sticking with it through thick and thin, and for nurturing the various communities that have grown up around and alongside you in supporting your enterprise.

  20. Thank you Guy and all your team for the wonderful boxes that always arrive whatever the weather. Big thanks especially during this cold weather to all the pickers.
    Wishing you all a Happy Christmas and a successful and peaceful 2018.

  21. I can’t say I do anything as rewarding or useful as riverside, but:
    I moved to treknow, North cornwall, in 99, and retired three years later aged 41. City life and the office, a desk, etc, never suited me.
    I love to smell the roses, and be free, live frugally.
    I’m not a big veg eater but I love your fruit, meat, bread, drinks, etc.
    Thanks for the last 13 years of healthy, and clear conscience, eating.
    Happy 2018, love micky

  22. Hi Guy,

    Many festive thanks to you – my children are now teenagers and have been brought up on Riverford veg! I have always eaten organic, buying veg from the first Clearspring grocers in North London next to the East-West Centre where we first learnt Tai Chi.

    Best wishes and blessings for the Solstice!

    Phil & Steph

  23. Wishing everyone at Riverford festive greetings. My daughter has been raised on your veg since 2003 and we have enjoyed many a visit to your farms in Devon and Hampshire.

  24. Jean and Amelia Bennett

    Hi Guy,
    Would echo all the others in thanking you for making that life changing decision. For you and for us. We order almost every week and have done for years. Having been brought up on my dad’s allotment veg and fruit it was really disappointing to have to eat supermarket produce in the early years of my marriage. When I discovered Riverford it was like going back to Dad’s fresh beautiful stuff, but with more variety. Have argued for years with people who said veg could not be grown successfully organically. It can, why isn’t it. Dad did it. The taste is far far superior and to know that your system doesn’t have to cope with all those chemicals is priceless. Long may you prosper Guy, it takes guts to stand up to all the supermarket bullies.

  25. Merry Christmas Guy to you and your family.
    We very much appreciate the flexibility that Riverford provides for our weekly shop – we are vegetarians who aren’t very good at eating vegetables, so the suggestions about what is in season now spur me to try a new vegetable every once in a while. Not having to have a box every week is also appreciated – as well as being able to choose what goes into it.
    Wishing you many good days in 2018. The solstice heralds a new season for all types of growth!

  26. We love the veg boxes and extra things at Christmas oh and the cookery books too of course! We can’t believe how hard you all work on the farm in all weathers – do hope you manage to get some rest and recuperation! Happy Christmas and here’s to more fabulous and ethical fruit, salad and veg in 2918 😁

  27. I am eternally grateful that you made those decisions, Guy. There is something really wonderful about unpacking my 100% UK grown vegetable box; every item feels alive and removing soil or mud splashes makes me feel more alive too. Clementines are the only items, not produced in the UK, that I have ordered this year. Christmas just would not feel right without them; nothing fits into the toe of a stocking better.
    Best wishes of the season to all at Riverford…be well and be happy. xxx

  28. Thank you Guy. We shared your dream 25 years ago when our box arrived via Hayes and now an established ‘Box’ member. With you all the way: again thank you. Wishing you and yours an amazing Christmas and everything that you wish for in the New Year – you deserve it!
    Marianne Gardner (Harrow)

  29. Sally - My Custard Pie

    Happy Christmas to all at Riverford. You are a true pioneer Guy. Every ‘Guy’s News’ speaks from integrity and the heart. You give hope in an often bleak landscape of big ag, chemical and retailer control of our food system.

  30. Merry Christmas Guy and thanks to you and all the Riverford folk your efforts are much appreciated. Even though I am now on my own I will still have my veg box and can have the joy of exploring a more veggie based diet.
    Best wishes for 2018

  31. All the above Guy. Seasons greetings to all at Riverford.

  32. Lucille and Philip

    We first came to Riverford as holiday makers visiting Devon with our young children now 26 and 30, little dreaming that we would be benefitting from your box scheme all these years later. We are immensely grateful to be kept fed and informed by you and all your hard workers. And thank you for the corn cob. The one that got away? Merry Christmas.

  33. Happy Christmas delicious Riverford and thank you for the brilliant seasonal cookbooks. Glad there is a delivery in London too for my daughters!

  34. I have known about Riverford for several years but I have only been ordering from April this year. I have been eating organically for about 25 years but the quality and choice I can get from Riverford is so much better. I thought an order fortnightly OK but I was so impressed with the quality I now order weekly. A very Happy Christmas to everyone at Riverford.

  35. Dear Guy
    I never tire of reading your blogs (rants!), your passion for the environment, and how it all came about. If only more people followed their passions instead of money and power we would be in a very different place. You’re up there with Sir David Attenborough as far as I’m concerned!
    May you all enjoy a wonderful Christmas and new year, and I wish you all a very successful 2018. It is a pleasure being one of your many customers.

  36. Riverford is getting big now, isn’t it? Beginning to look like a national organic movement, perhaps big enough to be a challenge to the orthodox food supply streams? More strength to you, Guy. Very pleased to read that you are thinking about succession. The “key man” arrangement can be a terrible trap.

  37. Peter and Susan Lane

    Thank you, Guy, and all the staff at Riverford. Here’s to another year of veg boxes, delicious meat and cheeses, not forgetting the red wines! Happy Christmas to you all.

  38. Happy Christmas to all of you at Riverford including the delivery folk. Your weekly newsletters are so passionate, they get me riled up ready to change the world! You are a great role model who actually puts his money where his mouth is. Thank you for the inspiration.

  39. It was an inspired move on your part and so many of us are grateful that you made that decision.
    Please continue to follow your heart – we love what you are doing
    Wishing you a very happy Christmas

  40. Deepest gratitude to you Guy and to all at Riverford as another year draws to a close. We customers really do feel part of something regenerative and good. In a world when the meaning of even something as precious as the concept “organic” is being watered down by “big -business -ag” trying to get their filthy paws on it , it is a great gift to be able to get our food from someone we “know” and trust.
    Please don’t be spooked by the headlong rush into tech. Anything that takes us further away from Nature Connection rather than nearer, is in my view contraindicated. Heaven forbid we ever have driverless vans and robots picking and delivering. As you say, let’s stay down with the potatoes and use tech only if after due consideration it is deemed to be truly beneficial not only to us, but to the seven generations yet to come.

  41. Happy Christmas to all at Riverford. Being a very long time box customer has not always been easy and I have had to up my game when it comes to cooking seasonally, but it has been worth it and I am really glad I have stuck with it too in my own small way. Thanks Guy !

  42. Happy Christmas to all at Riverford 🙂 may the new year see you strengthened for the coming year ready to stand tall and keep on doing what you do as you give hope to all who dream of a better way to live, to eat, to thrive. Thank Guy and all your team x

  43. Happy Christmas to all at Riverford. We love your vegetables and your “rants”. Quite often we agree with them wholeheartedly… Sometimes we have reservations but always we get the point. The main thing is that the veg are so tasty and fresh and we love not quite knowing what is going to appear (either because I have forgotten or because you have to substitute things – always a delight. There have been some lovely moments – such as for instance when Tesco trumpeted their change of policy to sell green tangerines – we were working our way happily through our second delivery of those this year, and we had to laugh at the shock horror nature of the story!! Thank you Guy! Please don’t stop.

  44. Thank you for your inspiring words. Your organic veg has been helping me on my slow climb back to health after a serious illness this year and I very much appreciate it, and the ethos behind it too. . I am looking for a metamorphosis of both health and lifestyle in the coming new year and appreciate your words. Hope you have had a wonderful,Christmas. Xx

  45. Hi,

    Thanks Guy, Love your newsletters. Everything about Riverford is brilliant, the veg, the deli foods, the meat, the people …. I’m sure that your new venture will be hugely successful and wish you all the best. We wish you all a very Happy, Healthy and prosperous New Year.
    Sue and Rich,

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