Guy’s news: Good news for birds, bees – and organic farmers

Guy is on holiday this week, hopefully enjoying better weather than we are. In his absence, we are using his space to share the heartening results from the 2018 Soil Association Organic Market Report. In fields and shops alike, the organic sector is seeing its sixth year of strong growth. The amount of UK farmland going organic has increased by 22% since 2016, and organic food sales are at an all-time high, growing by 6% (against non-organic sales growth of just 2%).

This is good news for us at Riverford, of course, but also for the planet. Organic farming is about working with nature, not against it. This principle guides all sorts of choices: from never using artificial pesticides and fertilisers, to maintaining wide field margins, mature hedgerows, reservoirs and healthy soil. We leave our hedgerows uncut between March and August so the local wildlife
can breed in peace. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it: new Soil Association research shows that plant, insect and bird life is typically 50% more abundant on organic farms, which can be home to 30% more species.

Organic certification also demands the highest level of animal welfare – setting much higher standards than, for example, free range. Animals have real freedom to roam on open pasture, enjoy a rich natural diet, and are reared without the routine use of drugs, antibiotics or wormers. Riverford’s meat all comes from small-scale West Country farmers we know and trust. Our fresh milk for customers in the South comes from the Riverford Dairy (owned by Guy’s brother and sister), and from the Tweddle family’s Acorn Dairy for customers in the North and East. The cows do a good job of making sure nothing goes to waste here in Devon… they will cheerfully devour any grade-out veg that isn’t good enough for human plates. Broccoli is their favourite!

30 years ago, when Guy first started growing veg in one field of his family’s farm, there was little evidence to support organic methods. In Guy’s own words, he chose organic ‘largely because it just felt right’. Since then, we’ve stuck by organic through thick and thin, supported by you, our customers. It’s good to see this growth, and to know that organic is beginning to feel right to a new generation of farmers and shoppers. Long may it continue.

11 responses to “Guy’s news: Good news for birds, bees – and organic farmers

  1. You just cannot beat Riverfords organic food . The milk and cream are the best you can get . The vegetables are first class as is the meat.
    You can trust Riverfords which is more than you can say for the supermarkets.
    Deliveries are regular brought to your door with a smile .
    What else can you ask for. Thank you to everyone involved.

    • I have been with Riverford Organic Vegetables for 16 years now, beets going shopping and delivered to your door.

  2. I am so pleased about the growth in organic food sales. I have just cooked a meal with nearly all Riverford produce , the one organic veg not from Riverford was not good, so I have learnt my lesson and must plan meals more carefully.

  3. This is great news about the growth of the organic sector. I’ve always wanted to go organic but I just never been able to afford it, but I tried getting free range as much as I possibly can. Doing a degree money is tight.

    But came across riverford accidentally one night and ordered a fruit & veg box straight away.

    What really terrified me is finding out that the pesticides, herbicides, fungicides etc used everywhere now is not only causing hormone imbalances, mental illnesses, linked to dysphoria, rare types of cancers but it’s also causing a mass insect/bee genocide and destroying our eco-system. Without them pollinating we will ALL eventually suffocate and die as plant life dies off. What terrified me even more than that, is the fact that the agri-chemical companies, such as Monsanto, have official statements on their FAQs pages blatantly lying & DENYING it, they even go to great lengths as to pay researchers to make up fake papers in their favour – so they aren’t even taking responsibility and don’t care!!

    So by going organic not only are you eating healthier, helping the environment and eco-system but you’re also NOT indirectly funding these pure evil incarnate agri-chem corporations who are hell-bent on killing you and the environment for the sake of profit.

    • Well you could not be more right, I have been eating organic fruit and veg for many years, since 1983 and with Riverford since 2002, would not have it any other way, we do not need these cemicals inour food.

  4. Great news. Like others I’ve always supported organic in spirit but sometimes been unable to buy due to lack of money. Other advantages too. As an OAP without a car it’s great not to have to carry everything or get rid of all that awful packaging. As a beekeeper I must point out that the bees are not without their champions and Butterfly and Moth Conservation is now in its 50th year. The good news is that everyone can help – citizen science really rocks.
    Love to all, Louise

  5. Great news for everyone. I love Riverford for leading the way to a healthier planet. The food is always delicious. People who say they cannot afford organic food need to prioritise. It saves bees and health bills as reduces chronic illnesses and cancer. It is vital for our future.

  6. what a joy to read this newsletter this morning , after the gloom of a Guardian article about ‘behind doors post Brexit trade in beef with the USA in which the hormone growth ban will be lifted ‘
    I love the weekly newsletter , it is so informative and positive and after raving about it for a couple of years my husband is now keen to read it too !

  7. This is really good news and more needs to be made of it. The younger generation coming into farming need to be shown how organic can be a way forward. My eldest child has been through college and university for countryside/Agg and she was never really shown organic opportunities and my younger teenage son who wants to go into Agg still thinks of organic as some slightly weird way of farming. Both have been brought up on organic foodbut still cant connect it to a commercial way of earning a living

  8. Great news about the great progress organic farming is making. As pioneers in sustainability I’d say now is the right time for Riverford to also lead the way on another issue, that of plastic packaging. I know you are looking into ways to reduce this but suggest that a ‘plastic free’ box to sit alongside your existing range of boxes is something you could introduce straight away . I’m sure this would prove popular with existing customers as well as generating good publicity.

  9. Tony William Powell

    Thankfully, soon, a great coming together of all farming types, organic, conventional, crofters, gamebird-rearing ventures etc. will be upon us. As I stated in my Facebook comment reproduced below, for which I received no response, I am of the opinion; we can all work together for the greater good of birds, bees – and ALL farmers.

    “I’m sure it’s not deliberate and I for one, believe in organic farming systems as they are invariably kinder to nature. However, framing posts using phrases such as “against non-organic” and stating you are so many percents better or whatever isn’t especially helpful, in my opinion. Farming needs everything and everyone to come together, to unite, for the industry to flourish. So many issues like declining biodiversity or even limiting dog attacks on livestock need educational approaches, and consumer-producer awareness is a most powerful tool, which every organisation can use. Conversely, thus far on my bird surveying research journey, an organic venture does top the bird variety league tables, but conventional farms, especially those with shooting rights aren’t lagging too far behind.”


    Best Wishes

    Tony Powell and naturestimeline

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