Guy’s news: “So how does it feel?”

I’ve been asked that question more than a few times in the three weeks since we became employee owned. The answer? I am starting to feel the soil under my feet again, my shoulders definitely feel lighter, and an unfamiliar smile keeps settling on my face. Maybe I’m imagining it, but I think my fellow co-owners are smiling more too, and everyone’s energy has gone up a gear.

I knew it was the right choice on the day: when we had the best party the farm has ever seen, full of spontaneity and joy; when my staff gave me a seat fashioned from the remains of last winter’s fallen oak; when we all signed a giant scroll as witnesses to the occasion; when several staff, old and new, spoke movingly of what Riverford means to them and their hopes for our future, to rapturous applause; when I found myself standing on the shoulders of two acrobats with a rose in my teeth… but most of all when I staggered off, inebriated and overwhelmed, to take a few minutes on my own and enjoy dusk falling into the valley. For years I have loved that view, across the fields that I have walked, planted, and hoed so many times – over the reservoir where my children learnt to swim, to the wood-shrouded Tor Hill. After a few moments, I saw that I was not alone: four equally inebriated, previously landless co-owners were also taking in the landscape. I shook myself when I realised it was no longer mine – to do with as I pleased, to share if I wanted, or not if I didn’t. Now it was ours, forever, with no going back. To my surprise and relief, in the last light of a perfect day, that felt perfect – and it still feels perfect three weeks later.

My smile stems from the conviction that together we have taken action and made a small change. I often return to this quote from Chomsky: “If you assume that there is no hope, you guarantee that there will be no hope. If you assume that there is an instinct for freedom, that there are opportunities to change things, then there is a possibility that you can contribute to making a better world.” To have sown a seed of hope and made a step towards the world I want to live in seems a very good reason to smile. So… it feels good. Some rain would make it even better.

Guy Singh-Watson

21 responses to “Guy’s news: “So how does it feel?”

  1. Pictures please

  2. Margaret smith

    Well done Guy, it is lovely to hear that you still feel that it was the right decision. I can imagine how proud you feel after all your hard work and taking such a big step.
    I look forward to hearing your Dessert Island discs on Sunday and hearing part of your life story.

  3. Françoise Szigeti

    Fully agree with prior comment. I wish more small & large businesses would take that route. You are in good company with the John Lewises’ of this world. I also do expect to listen to Island Disk on Sunday !! Great that you, Riverford and your actions are recognised in this way by the BBC.

  4. siani-at-work Williams

    A good decision well made. If only more businesses operated like Riverford the world would be a much happier & fairer place.

  5. Having been a customer for quite a few years now, I am full of admiration for Guy. Organic farming in our unpredictable climate is a challenge Guy has risen to and we wish him and the members of the company continued success.

  6. Happy days. With many more to come.

    I’m loving the sunshine, and your summer fruits: raspberries, strawberries, nectarines…with cherries anticiated soon:-)

  7. Congratulations on an inspired decision! Protecting your legacy and securing the future of all your co workers has the be the best way forward for everyone. We are do delighted to have discovered Riverford and will always support this wonderful ethical business. You are an inspiration to us all. Thank you.

  8. I’m envious and grateful in equal measure. As a customer I am pleased to play a very small part in this on going enterprise. Much luck and prosperity to you all

  9. Rock on Guy & Riverford! 🙂 All your hard work & dedication is admirable & as a loyal Riverford customer I wish everyone involved in this venture the very best of luck. Riverford is treasured by us all & is a unique inspiration! Onwards & upwards with delicious, healthy, organic produce that is very much appreciated. Love & Light to you all X

  10. Dianne Bradshaw

    Thank you Guy and your team for all the fantastic fruit, veg and all the other thoughtful and inspirational goodies I have bought over the many years. They are much appreciated. Not forgetting the great ‘Send a Cow’ scheme which seems to embody a philosophy of sharing what we each have. Your sharing Riverford together with those who work there and invest their time and energy makes it even better. On reading this and your Chomsky quote I shed a little tear of happiness.

    • Françoise Szigeti

      I am a rather recent customer, but I feel exactly like Dianne Bradshaw, and I look forward to the Desert Island interview of Guy later Sunday morning. As the world is currently so polarised and “snarly”, it is comforting to find people like Guy and his “co-owners”.

      THANKS for the food for the soul that comes with the food from the earth,
      Françoise Szigeti

  11. Kalandar Warren

    It is really special what you and your brothers/sisters have created – I’ve been a regular customer for 14 years and certainly the boxes and all that goes on to get them out have changed my way of thinking about food – i do sometimes take it all for greanted and this comment is really acknowledging my gratitude to what Riverford has achieved and the qualities it stands for – it’s a big family and yet intimate, just and customer-focussed at the same time. More to come for sure

    • Thank you Kalandar. It’s so wonderful that you’re shared such a chunk of our 30 year journey with us. Here’s to 14 more years.

  12. Angela Edmunds

    Hi, I wonder if you think it worth considering providing raw meat for dog food. There is a growing number of people who are raw feeding and things you may discard, e.g. Beef and turkey tracheas, offal, wings, would be snapped up. It may be worth a survey? Just a thought! Love you all and the work you do. Guy came across really well on Desert Island Discs, maybe some of those listening will want to get on the organic, ethical train while we still can, before Brexit lowers standards across agriculture just to get deals in place. Good luck everyone.

  13. Sophie Topham

    Congratulations to all at Riverford. Had a lil tear in my eye while reading this. Our household loves Riverford dearly as a company – wish discovered many many years ago!! Sophie and Nigel

  14. As a customer, a lover of the food I get each week and a firm believer in sharing the goodness, I applaud you. I loved listening to your Desert Island Discs, however, your musical tastes weren’t mine 🙂 #eachtotheirown

  15. Carole Sherwell

    I follow your comments regularly and have never found anything with which I disagreed.
    However, I do not like the use of the word Rant.
    Your comments are measured and to the point.
    Please continue.

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