Guy’s news: The day has come

After 12 years of thought, debate and prevarication, we become 74% employee owned on Friday 8th. There will be a huge party on the day; our customer services line will be closed from 1pm so everyone can celebrate. And on Monday, assuming they don’t sack me, I will come to work as one of 650 co-owners. Amongst all the signings, meetings and legal documentation, I am tearful, grumpy and awash with churning emotions – but doubt is not one of them.

I am convinced most people are kinder, less greedy, more creative, more thoughtful and can contribute more and be more productive than our institutions allow them to demonstrate. The best indication of business efficiency (and most valid prediction of future success) is getting the best out of people while giving the most back; return on capital is a poor, short-term proxy. I want to be part of an organisation that helps us be the best version of ourselves – that facilitates and grows people, rather than  undermining their humanity by appealing to ignoble sentiments, as capitalism too often does.

I could sell to the highest bidder and use the money to support good causes (the Bill & Melinda model), but I have nagging doubts about charity and would prefer to embed the changes I want to see in everyday life. To quote Ghandi: “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change… We need not wait to see what others do.” The popular paraphrase, be the change you want to see in the world, leaves out the critical advice not to wait for others.

So, this Friday we will take Ghandi’s advice and get on with it. Time might prove me hopelessly idealistic, but I don’t think so; over the last year we have been working towards a more inclusive, human style of management, and the signs are so good that even our more militaristically minded managers are embracing the change. It feels as if an oppressive cloud is already lifting and a new dawn, full of exciting possibility, is revealing itself. In the end, the most critical factor is confidence: in each other and in our shared humanity; the confidence to be our whole selves, and not to wait for others to lead the way.

Those with the time and interest can now read Guy’s full ‘Founder’s Wishes’ statement at

43 responses to “Guy’s news: The day has come

  1. Well done Guy, forward thinking and positive attitude. If everyone could think outside the box and not just about themselves all the time what a better place we would be in. I too have my doubts about some charities, the big charities, who exactly some of the money goes to? Have a great party you all deserve it, as the song goes “things can only get better” ………. lets all keep thinking and working towards caring for our environment and the wildlife and countryside.

    • Thank you Guy in the values and wisdoms you are about to put into practice, with others. Totally agree with your sentiments about believing in the best in each other. There will be mistakes, but hey! we are human and bound to make them. You have the courage to put your beliefs into practice. Very well done!

  2. Congratulations Guy,
    What a fantastic blog. As long as we have such people as yourself there is hope for the world and I so admire your ideals, how could I not want to support and be part of it.
    Have a memorable day and many thanks to all at riverford

  3. Congratulations! What a milestone. Thank you too for sharing the Founder’s Wishes document; it’s excellent.

    Wishing power to your (collective) farming elbows, much success, much business and personal learning and growth, and a stonking party to kick off the next leg of the journey.

    May you be imitated, widely and well.

  4. Well done and congratulations to you all in your new venture. So exciting for you all and have absolutely no doubt you will All be successful.
    Have a great party🎉🎉🎉🎉

  5. My goodness. What a momentous achievement and perhaps we should wish many others did the same. But congratulations to all of you who have worked, talked, discussed, argued a point, given thought and consideration to such a splendid outcome, and not least to you, Guy, who thought of it all in the first place. I was customer number 38 with Annie in GU postcode 20 something years ago and have seen you all grow……yourselves as well as the veggies! Great people, great food, great company.

  6. Caroline Lennartsson

    Dear Guy, I have immense respect for you and your tireless pioneering work over the many years. Congratulations on setting a process in motion that testified to your farsightedness and generosity of spirit and broadness and justice of vision. Inspiring. With very best wishes for all beyond the parties!

  7. Sometimes life is about risking everything for a dream no one can see but you, congratulations!

    “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito – Dalai Lama”

  8. Jacqui van Bommel

    Thank you all at Riverford for giving us the choice and helping us to make our lives, our world and health better with your excellent organic foods and farming. Reading your Founders wishes document was a great way to start my day. My wish is that your wishes become the norm not the exception. Celebrate and be rightly proud.

  9. Craig & Diana Brewer

    Congratulations to ALL at Riverford Farms on your new next venture together. Well Done Guy Watson! We love our veg from you all and really are proud to be customers and supporters of your business ethics and philosophy.
    Craig & Diana Brewer

  10. With all good wishes for a successful and fulfilling future.
    From everyone at Delfland Nurseries.

  11. Andrea Bradley

    I’m always cheered and challenged by your blogs Guy but this one tops all others. I sit in my tiny part of our planet, despairing at the mess and suffering we humans seem to inflict on the world, and then your message arrives casting light, hope and cheer! Good luck to you all – I’ll support with my measly buying power as well as droning on about the Riverford ethics whenever opportunity presents itself.

  12. Very best wishes for a successful future. Keep up the good work.

  13. Well done Guy. Its a great thing you have done. Enjoy the celebrations!

  14. As usual, your words are a welcome pleasure, but this blog delivers a heart-warming palm too. Congratulations to all! …Enjoy the ride.

  15. Jill Willmott

    Congratulations on steering Riverford to its new aspect. May the odd problem be small and few, and may Riverford grow stronger and spread further afield.

  16. Congratulations, Guy and the Riverford team.

  17. Bravo Guy! Love everything you do. As Goethe said: “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it”. What a very special day for you all 👏👏🍾🍾🎉 🎉

  18. Jennifer Rowlands

    Congratulations to all in the Riverford project may it flourishes and spread to others and change the course of farming.
    Thank you all
    Jenny R

  19. Guy – just had a slightly dodgy day and then I read this, which made me smile at your courage and far-sightedness. Completely inspiring. We shall open a bottle – perhaps two – and drink to you and your wonderful produce. Every possible success to you all, Terry & Jan Robson

  20. Philippa Pike

    Hope it’s a great success. People will surprise you when they are liberated to be part of such a successful business and I’m sure a lot happier. My husband always says overmanagement can stifle people’s creativity and that liberated people flourish. We’ve been customers for ever! Well done!

  21. Lucy Ovington

    We have been Riverford customers for over 10 years for this reason. You are inciteful, compassionate and extraordinary. You could have followed the herd; you didn’t. You could have followed the money; you didn’t. You could have set us an example we could all follow and be proud of; oh, hang on… you did!! Love everything this stands for. Thanks

  22. Lucille White


  23. Peter and Susan Lane

    Congratulations to all at Riverford, but particularly you, Guy, for showing the leadership and the will to do things differently. If only more businesses followed similar ethics and principles, I’m sure we’d all be in a better place. It is much harder to follow your instincts and stick to your principles when everybody else is running in the opposite direction. So well done, and here’s wishing all at Riverford the best of luck for the future! We’ll be with you all the way.

  24. Jennie Browne

    Fantastic Guy ! well done we wish you all the best in going forward it will be amazing. I would like to thank everyone at Riverford for brilliant service ,patience , and efficiency. Enjoy the party I know not to ring on Friday !!!
    Thank you all Jennie and Arnold Browne

  25. Inspirational-thank you Guy. Congratulations to all for the days ahead. Enjoy the celebrations. 🎉

  26. Luc and Kathy

    All the good luck to you Guy and all of your compagnons !!! Congratulations from Belgium !

  27. Wonderful stuff Guy, I wish for leadership like yours. I’ve spent the last 16 yars working for an organisation that was slowly beginning to adopt 21st century working practices that were beginning to bring some improvements… we were recently bought out by a Canadian company that seems hellbent on dragging us right back to the 19th century.
    I wish the Riverford organisation all the luck in the world (though I don’t thinnk you’ll need it) and all the success in the world (though I think that’s a forgone conclusion, given your plans and approach). Happy days to you all!

  28. When man is inspired to doing good he stands aright, and his various volitions lead to far better actions and fruits, which as a result improve the lives of and inspire others, along with bringing many other benefits for the world. Thus, a man can set ablaze a trail by which many others can ascend through loving thy neighbour as thyself, which means to treat him justly in all interactions, be it in work or family relations. It is natural then that through such good and right actions that trust, confidence and other virtues are encouraged; thereby protecting people from the tentacles of the darkness, which is not easy in today’s modern economic and social climate, which is clearly unjust and unbalanced in its oppressive, selfish and greedy forms of tyranny. I therefore congratulate you on your generosity of spirit, and wish Riverford well upon both their earthly and spiritual journeys, for it is the latter which gives birth to and fuels life itself through genuine love. Gandhi too saw the importance of surrender to the Almighty through being virtuous, and in his humility, love and discipline brought a different type of ‘silent’ leadership into the modern day political arena, yet remarkably achieved the freeing of the great Indian nation from the British Imperialists through a mass peace movement. Thus we see how humility and love can free us from any oppression in the world, if we sincerely desire it so, by liberating the spirit. And despite any ‘perceived’ success or failure in the earthly, we can thereby ascend to the luminous heights, which are our true home. I therefore look forward to my future eternal supply of Riverford produce. And thank you for your inspirational lifestyle and newsletter.

  29. Good luck, Guy – I hope it brings everything you’ve hoped for and more. Keep writing the newsletters too!

  30. Congratulations to the Riverford family and a huge well done to you Guy. What an incredible journey you are about to embark on. I agree with what the other posts have said in that I hope this becomes the norm in the future.. “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world” – from our family to yours, we wish you the very best of luck x

  31. A Beacon of Light in this greedy world!!

  32. Therese and Dave Brenton

    Totally inspiring Love the newsletters and this one is the best ever.
    Good luck to you all, renews faith in humanity, enjoy your celebrations, you so deserve it Will continue to love the veg

  33. Stirring and inspiring! Well done – I hope it all goes really well.

  34. I am sure this has taken a lot of thought Guy but well done for getting there and very bust wishes to all the Riverford co-owners for their future prosperity and well being. I wish a lot of other organisations would think this way as it does surely mean that when you are working together for a common good that you all share then you pull together that little bit better.

  35. Your philosophy and journey towards this point is why I wouldn’t go elsewhere. It will be great 🙂

  36. I have admired the way you have shared your thoughts about how to pass on Riverford. Thank you for your inclusion

    Collective decisions can often be better ones, but they take longer!
    I hope short term.seasonal decisions don’t dominate, but the food has to be marketed and the boxes go out.
    Your particular likes may not always be shared, but I do like Cardoons! Tried to grow them once Admire your persistence

  37. Have to move. You did it in time, for the others to carry some more of the load

  38. I wish you lots of success as a collective organisation, it is a great example and philosophy on how to run a business where the real people can participate and benefit rather than the greedy conglomerates. I have been a customer for over 10 years whilst living in London and now living in Dorset. I have resisted the special offers coming in the post from competitors and have stayed true to Riverford as I have always believed Riverford stayed true to what you produce and your customers. Thank you and my best wishes for the inclusive future of Riverford. Well done !

  39. Congratulations.
    I hope many more will follow your example.
    I trust that your faith in your team will result in a better business for all including suppliers and customers.
    I believe you have found a great solution to the problem of legacy, without causing issue to your heirs.
    I know that you will truthfully report over the next several years on the ongoing outcomes of this momentous decision.

  40. Congratulations – an important and great day. 2 things from the ‘wishlist’ struck me: long-term relationships, but built on challenge not complacency; and the need for capitalism to come with a conscience, not be an amoral dogma. Adam Smith himself knew it: but no-one reads his second book (Theory of Moral Sentiments) which in his own mind was exactly that couteracting force to set against the otherwise amoral self-interest which drives the Wealth of Nations. The ones who are REALLY putting Adam Smith’s theories to work, are Riverford not the blindly-amoral capitalist giants. More power to your collective elbows.

  41. Margaret smith

    Well said Guy. You must be very proud of yourself and what you have and are achieving. I take my hat off to you. It is very understandable that your emotions are all over the place, looking back at what you have achieved and are now taking this big leap forward and the excitement of sharing your business. How proud you must be.
    I hope everything works out well for you and you relax and enjoy the celebrations this afternoon.
    If anyone should get a knight hood it is people like you. I feel proud that I am a Riverfords customer.

  42. The human race needs and deserves more of this spirit in action. What a huge difference it makes in the world, when someone holds to deeply considered values and then takes a mighty leap into trusting others to hold to them too. May this leap influence far and wide, and long into the future. Greatest respect to you, Guy, for being the change.

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