Category Archives: Uncategorised

What’s new?

No matter how exciting a new product is, to make it onto our shelves, wowing in taste tests is only the first hurdle. We must be just as confident in the ethics of anything we sell as we are in the flavour.

Here are the inspiring stories behind the newest treats in our online farm shop.

Cornish sea salad

harvesting seaweed

Often the best ideas are hiding right under our noses. So it was for Caro Warwick-Evans and Tim van Berkel, two ocean-loving surfers and the founders of the Cornish Seaweed Company.

Renewable energy graduate Caro was listening to a Radio 4 programme about the Irish seaweed industry when she had her ‘eureka!’ moment. Cornwall’s waters are bursting with richly nutritious seaweed; why wasn’t it being used?

Old friend & conservationist Tim soon got on board with the idea, but making it happen turned out to be far from easy. England had no seaweed industry to speak of, so they had no precedent to follow through the complex laws and regulations surrounding our coastline. Eventually, they were granted license to harvest from a 5-mile stretch of the Lizard coast by the Crown Estate.

SuCornish sea saladstainability is a founding principle of the Cornish Seaweed Company. They worked with Natural England to create a national code of conduct for sustainable seaweeding, always harvest by hand, and dry the seaweed using sun and wind energy. They are certified organic by the Soil Association.

Shop Cornish sea salad

Shade-grown coffee

harvesting coffee

In its wild form, coffee is a shrub that grows in the forest shade, protected from the sun by a canopy of trees. However, to produce greater yields, a new breed of sun-tolerant coffee plants was created in the 1970s. Swathes of rainforest have now been cleared for sun-grown coffee plantations, destroying habitats, leaching the soil of nutrients, and polluting the ecosystem with chemical nasties.

Our new ground coffee is organically shade grown. The shade trees not only provide protection from the sun, but also drop leaves which turn to mulch, keeping the soil naturally moist and fertile. Local wildlife is free to thrive around the crops – especially birds, who repay the favour by taking on pest control duty and eating insects off the plants.

This coffee is better for people too. The beans are grown by Manos Campesinas, a cooperative of small-scale organic coffee farmers in the remote highlands of Guatemala. Organic ground coffeeManos Campesinas helps its members access the market and receive fair payment, as well as supporting them to plan and grow their businesses. The cooperative’s innovative work includes farmer-to-farmer training in advanced organic methods, and leadership programmes for women. Watch supplier Equal Exchange’s video about women in coffee.

Shop organic ground coffee

Pure peanut butter

harvesting peanuts

Another treat from pioneering fair trade supplier Equal Exchange, this thick, flavoursome peanut butter is made with 100% organic peanuts and nothing else. No salt, no sugar, no palm oil, no lecithin stabilisers – just the best organic peanuts, roasted without blanching to preserve all their natural goodness.

The peanuts are grown by the Yishui Xingye Groundnut Professional Association, a group of 58 small-scale organic farmers in the Shandong province of China. Each farmer leases a few small plots to grow their crop, leaving as much of the area wooded as possible to encourage plants and wildlife. They have been farming organically since 1996, and process the nuts in their organic-only processing factory.

In 2009 the Association was certified Fairtrade. The farmers have decided jointly how to spend the additional income. A successful idea must fulfil the 3 points organic peanut butterpinned up in their training centre: serving a basic need, improving the situation of all the farmers, and possessing a long-term benefit. So far they have chosen to improve roads in the area, buy books and clothes for schoolchildren, and invest in better seeds, tools and irrigation.

Shop organic peanut butter

To find out more, visit and

Hens on the veg

Because of the current avian flu threat, our chickens (like all UK poultry) must be kept indoors until spring, to make sure they don’t have any contact with wild birds that might carry the infection.

The sheds are safe and comfortable, but our birds are used to roaming on open green pasture all day; understandably, they can get a bit bored. We’ve done all sorts to keep them entertained – even giving them some footballs to play with! But the thing they seem to enjoy the most is lots of tasty grade-out produce to graze on.

Watch our video below to see our hens living life on the veg.

Order organic eggs and chicken in our online farm shop.

Iceberg lettuce shortage? Kale Caesar!


As supermarkets ration veg because of bad weather in Spain and Italy, is the shortage of iceberg lettuce the big deal many are making it out to be?

Riverford founder, and organic veg box pioneer, Guy Watson thinks not. ‘We need to relearn the potential of great British veg, and embrace seasonal British winter crops instead of relying on imports. Right now our fields are brimming with wonderful cabbages, leeks, kale, swede and flavourful greenery that have much more to offer than imported courgettes or watery iceberg lettuce.’

He continues, ‘A lack of lettuce isn’t a big deal. One of our most popular winter dishes in the Riverford Field Kitchen restaurant is our Kale Caesar Salad; it is always a hit with diners, who are rarely aware that kale can be a far superior substitute for bland salad leaves. It’s also really easy to make a vibrant winter slaw using beetroot, carrot, red cabbage and swede – all in season and growing in British fields right now.’

As farmers ourselves, we know how devastating bad weather can be for a crop, and have a commitment to support our growers, and minimise waste by having much more generous specifications than the supermarkets.

‘In my experience, when I was growing for supermarkets, up to a half of all veg was often left in the field due to unnecessarily tight cosmetic specifications. We don’t believe in such needless waste so for example, we’re currently including undersized broccoli heads in our veg boxes, but just giving more of them. Because we grow, source, pack and deliver our veg ourselves, we have the flexibility to widen our specifications.’

With 30 years of veg growing experience behind us, we really know how to make great British veg sing. Our recipe hub is packed with recipes to help bring British veg to life, such as Kale, Chorizo and Potato Hash, Moroccan Cauliflower Salad with Chickpeas and Hazelnuts, and Kale, Fruit and Nut Pilaf.


Top tips for juicing


Seasonal fruit and succulent veg, zingy citrus, fresh herbs and spices… our new organic juicing box is brimming with all you need to make at least 3 litres of organic juice. With such a rainbow of squeezable things at your fingertips, the possible mixes are endless.

Here is our chefs’ guide to juicing, to help you make the most of all that good stuff.

Getting started
If you’re completely new to juicing, start by squeezing a few things separately then mixing, rather than trying to judge a harmonious blend straight into the glass. This also lets you taste the individual flavours; you can’t rely on vegetables’ cooked taste as a strict frame of reference for their juice.

The key to a good blend is well balanced flavours. Start with the premise that what works well on the plate – beetroot and orange, apple and celery, cucumber and mint – will also work in the glass, and build from there using this flavour guide.

Mild ingredients such as apple, celery, cucumber, courgette, lettuce and melon form the base of your juice. They tend to yield large amounts of liquid, and act as a carrier for brasher flavours.

Most people’s favourite flavour, found in most fruits and some veg (e.g. parsnips and carrots). Don’t be tempted to go too sweet; it’s much more satisfying when tempered with other, more complex flavours.

Bitter veg such as dark leaves and brassicas definitely taste like they’re doing you good, but needn’t be taken as punishment. Combine with something sharp or sweet to round off their harsher edges.

A hint of something sharp can do wonders to pep up a juice. Too much will make you wince, but a well-judged squeeze of lemon or lime is a good foil for excessive sweetness or bitterness.

A deep, sturdy flavour found in most roots, especially carrots and beetroots. The right complementary flavours can really make it sing – try beetroot and orange, or carrot, apple and ginger.

Fresh greens herbs and spices, such as mint, parsley, turmeric and ginger, can be very dominating. Use cautiously, as a garnish to your juice.

It’s not just about flavour…
As well as a good flavour, you need enough liquid to make a decent drink. Some things yield a small amount of strong-tasting juice (e.g. kale, parsnips); others produce a larger volume with a milder flavour (e.g. cucumber, lettuce, melon). Try to choose at least one high-yielding ingredient.

Colour conscious
A photogenic juice is not your main aim, but it is worth remembering you colour charts from primary school. If you’re aiming for a certain hue, try to keep things in roughly the same spectrum. If all goes brown and murky, just add beetroot.

Thicken it up
Bananas and avocados are far too soft and mushy to juice; blend them into your juice instead.

Practical tips
Whatever the blend, these hints will come in handy.

  • As we are organic, there’s no worry of chemicals or wax on the skins, so most things can be juiced without peeling. Just take off any strong-tasting peel (e.g. citrus), or very tough skins that might challenge your juicer (e.g. melon or pineapple).
  • Greens are best tightly rolled before putting them in the juicer.
  • Slow and steady wins the race. Don’t try to force through too much, too fast.
  • Don’t forget to taste, tweak, and taste again, just as you would when cooking.
  • Finish with a high-yielding ingredient (e.g. cucumber) to wash through any trapped flavours.
  • Depending on the oomph of your juicer, it may be worth re-juicing the pulp to see if you can extract a few last drops.
  • Drink your juice as soon as possible. It will last up to 2 days in the fridge, but starts to oxidise and lose nutritional value quickly.
  • Compost your pulp. You could plant some veg in the results and juice that, too; a perfect circle.

Get juicing!
We hope these tips inspire you to become a mad juice scientist, creating your own colourful concoctions. Also try chef Bob’s juicing recipes, updated every week to reflect what’s in the box.


Feed the Birds with a Riverford Sunflower

birds with sunflowerIn 2015, Guy decided to plant thousands of sunflowers on his French farm in the Vendée, hoping to make his own organic sunflower oil. Whilst watching the local wildlife thrive off the crop, he had an idea. Instead of making oil, he would give them away in the boxes, to feed British birds!

The sunflowers went down a treat – and not just with birds. People sent us snaps of everything from wild birds to chickens, the odd cheeky squirrel, and even a hamster munching their way through this organic snack. We also donated some to Paignton Zoo, Shaldon Wildlife Trust, the RSPB and the Monkey Sanctuary in Looe, where keepers said they made a great enrichment activity.

It was so wonderful to see all those creatures great and small enjoying Guy’s gift, he decided to grow even more sunflowers and do it again this year. The glowing yellow fields have been harvested, the flower heads have been dried, and they’re ready to go out. Most people will be getting one in their box this week, so keep your eyes peeled.

Once your sunflower arrives, hang it up so the birds can access the seeds easily, and high enough to keep them safe from prowling cats. It may take a few days for the English birds to catch on, but they will. Then simply enjoy the spectacle.

Wildlife photography competition

We would love to see photos of any feasting birds. Please share at and using #riverfordsunflower for your chance to win 6 months’ worth of Riverford veg boxes.

For inspiration, have a look at some of our favourite pictures from last time below.

Helping you live life on the veg

Many of you were generous enough with your time to fill in our recent customer survey and give us a fantastic amount of detailed feedback. This confirmed a huge desire to cook from scratch (95% of you doing so most days), a great appetite for veg (28% now vegetarian, more vegan and many more striving to eat less meat), and a great belief in the power of veg boxes to help you do this (extending your repertoire and eating healthily following organic, flavour and quality as reasons to buy Riverford). Less positively, only 31% of veg box buyers find the contents really easy to use up. So we know we still have a mission to make life on the veg a bit easier. Here are a few things we are doing to help you meet the challenge of the cardoon and kohlrabi.

Veg-centric recipes & the cooks who create them
We have a fantastic team of cooks here on the farm; what they don’t know about veg isn’t worth knowing, so visit the recipes hub on our website. We’ve worked hard this year to give you recipes and tips to match your box contents. They are in most veg boxes now will be in all as soon as we can house a new printer.

Social media stories
Think of our Facebook page as a mini Riverford community. If you’ve got a question, between us on the farm and other customers, someone will soon come to the rescue. You’ll also find new how-to videos for every vegetable, and new recipe videos both here and on our YouTube channel.

Cookery classes & supper clubs
We have started two-hour hands-on Master Veg classes and will be rolling out more of these next year. Classes are kept small, so there’s plenty of opportunity for individual guidance and questions. Meanwhile, our Supper Clubs are a great chance to meet other customers over a convivial veg-centric feast.

New ways with veg & new organic things
In 2017 we will be launching juicing boxes, new recipe boxes, as well as organic herbs, spices and more besides. And who knows what new crops Guy has up his sleeve!

Enjoy 2017 on the veg.

Popcorn on the cob

Guy loves growing something a little quirky, so for the second year running he’s experimented with growing popping corn on our French farm in the Vendée; it’s fun to play around with in the kitchen too.

The corn was planted back in May, across about 4 hectares of the farm. Like sweetcorn, which we grow during the summer, popping corn is a type of maize. It is important not to plant the two different crops in adjacent fields, as this could cause cross-pollination.

Sweetcorn can be harvested from as early as July in France, but the most important part of growing successful popping corn is leaving it for as long as possible and allowing enough time for the kernels to dry out; we left ours to soak up every last bit of the autumn sun and finally picked them in November.

We hope you’ll enjoy the magic of watching and hearing the kernels dance away in the pan. Here is our method, and a few ideas from chef Bob for how to pimp up your popcorn.



Start by stripping the dried kernels from the cob. The best way is to hold the cob with both hands and perform a twisting, Chinese-burn-style motion. This should loosen the first few kernels; it is then just a case of thumbing the rest away from the cob and into a bowl.

You’ll need a heavy-based, roomy saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Warm 1 tbsp vegetable oil, add the corn and put the lid on tight. Shake occasionally until you hear the popping start, then shake continuously over a high heat until it ebbs. Remove the corn and discard any unpopped pieces.

A few ideas:

Throw a knob of butter into the warm corn, mix until coated and season with flaky sea salt. If you are feeling crushingly contemporary, add a few turns of pepper or a measured shake of cider vinegar.

Whip up this simple butterscotch just before cooking your corn and slather it over a warm bowlful. Put 25g butter, 50g dark brown sugar, 60ml double cream and a few drops of vanilla essence in a pan and heat gently until simmering, whisking well. Cook for 4-5 mins until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and add a pinch or two of sea salt to taste. Allow to cool a little before using.

There is nothing to stop you going crazy with the spice cupboard. Add a little oil or melted butter as an adhesive and get shaking. Try dried chilli, smoked paprika and cumin, or how about some turmeric, curry powder and celery salt. Be so hip it hurts with truffle oil and grated parmesan.

Growing your Christmas veg

blog-bannerDecember has arrived, bringing with it a burst of Christmas spirit. It’s finally time to put up the tree and crack open the advent calendar. There are fairy lights to be untangled, presents to be picked, and all sorts of treats to eat and drink.

Here on the farm, December doesn’t mark the beginning of the festivities, but the culmination of many months of work. We have been planning, planting, and tending our Christmas crops for the best part of the year, making sure everything is ready for the big day.

Here’s a little insight into what it takes to put some of the most iconic veg of the season on your plate, and how they are coming along.

Brussels sprouts

growing sprouts for Christmas

Up in Lancashire, Dan Gielty (otherwise known as Organic Dan) planted our Brussels sprouts all the way back in March and April. That might seem like a long time to produce such a tiny vegetable, but the slow growth allows their flavour to develop, and they really do taste better for it.

This year’s crop is flourishing. They aren’t the sprout-cutterprettiest to look at – organic sprouts never are, as the dense canopy of leaves provides a cosy environment for bugs and blight – but they are plump, healthy, and plentiful. In the past, we’ve had some issues with empty spaces on the stalks, but this lot are chock-a-block.

When the sprouts are mature, experienced pickers climb aboard Dan’s ‘beast’ of a cutter (pictured), and harvest them by hand. It’s exhausting work, but worth it: having put so much time into our sprouts, each one is precious. It would be a shame for them to be bumped and bruised, or picked before they were ready by an undiscriminating machine.

Red cabbage


Christmas cabbages were put in the soil back in June and July, by our neighbour here in South Devon, Andy Hayllor. While they grow, the plants look surprisingly plain: a sea of dusky silver, rather than the vibrant red you might expect. Come harvest time, the dull, tatty outer leaves – nature’s own packaging – are trimmed away, revealing the bright, glossy heads inside.

red-cabbageIt must be a good year for Brassicas: like the sprouts, the cabbages have behaved perfectly in the field. Andy is growing the same variety we always use. As well as being heavy and well-packed with leaves, and possessing that deep, earthy flavour so distinctive to red cabbage, they also store particularly well. The heads that were cut, trimmed, and stored in late November will still be fresh and tasty for the boxes in Christmas week.


King Edward potatoes


There is no better potato for a Christmas roastie than the King Edward. They’re so good, they might just upstage the turkey. However, they are also notoriously difficult to grow; prone to blight, and to producing too many tubers at too small a size.

The tastiest, fluffiest roastie is worth the extra effort – and the risk. All it takes is a farmer who understands the plant. Enter the Farley brothers, from Cullompton; they have been growing our King Edwards for the past 5 years, so they really know their stuff. Their farm also has the optimum soil: fine and sandy, so that it is still diggable in winter. Rather than hurrying the potatoes out of the ground before it hardens up, we can leave them to grow until the last possible moment, getting more flavoursome all the while.

This year, something happened that no amount of experience could have prevented. A cold, wet June meant that when the plants were supposed to be basking in sunshine and bulking up their roots, instead a bit of blight got in. The quality of the potatoes we have is very good, and there are plenty to fill the boxes – but it isn’t the quantity that we had hoped for. Last year, on the other hand, we ended up with double the amount that we needed. Farming can be a fickle game!

It’s nigh-on impossible to get a uniform crop of organic parsnips. They are very variable in their germination, with seeds taking anywhere between 10 and 30 days to emerge; this inevitably means that the roots will end up a range of shapes and sizes. We don’t mind a bit of wonkiness – it’s led to some amusement here on the farm. You may have seen a few of our favourites on Facebook.


Our parsnips are also being grown by the Farleys – and it’s the best crop we’ve seen for 4 years. The quality is exceptional; they are already super sweet, and will be even better by Christmas, once the first frost has converted some of their starch to sugar. There’s also rather a lot of them. You can never have ‘too many’ of something so nice, but we do have more than we anticipated… 56 tonnes more, in fact! We’re sure we’ll find some willing takers.

Enjoy the feast
A lot of love goes into our Christmas veg boxes. There is so much planning to be done before anything even goes into the ground – then come the long months of care while they slowly grow, and the back-breaking work of harvesting by hand in bleak winter weather. But sitting down to an organic Christmas table laden with all our festive favourites, we know that it was worth every moment.

Pumpkin Day 2016

Every year we celebrate autumn with our legendary Pumpkin Day. It’s always a big event, and this time was no different. We struck lucky with the weather: it was a crisp, clear day, just right for getting in the seasonal spirit. Everyone was wellied up and ready to have some fun.

There was a great buzz on all four farms and at our London event on Spitalfields City Farm. Thousands of visitors got stuck into pumpkin carving, tractor rides, cooking demos, farm walks, worm digging and much more, alongside live music, and, of course, lots of tasty autumnal food.

Thank you to everyone who came along and made this Pumpkin Day a big success. It’s your enthusiasm that makes it special. There were some brilliant Halloween costumes around, and lots of you got really creative in the pumpkin carving tent! We all had a great time, and hope you did too.

Have a look through some pictures or check out this video from our Devon farm, below. You might just spot yourself in there!

Archaeology and history in the fields

By John Richards, Senior Farm Manager at Wash Farm, Devon.

Walking in the countryside, for most people, involves taking in the scenery; the sky, trees, birds and other wildlife. People that work the land, however, like farmers, growers and tractor drivers, tend to spend the day mostly looking down at the ground; inspecting soil, cultivating seedbeds and growing crops (and generally fretting about yields, pests, disease etc.).

Your eye gets used to seeing the soil colour and the array of stones laid out on the soil surface but without really trying you tend to notice anything that stands out or looks a bit different. Angus, who drives our Dutch self-propelled vegetable weeding machine at Wash Farm is constantly watching the metal tines glide through the soil. He started to notice whenever flints showed up on the surface and after closer inspection and some research realised they were often flint tools worked by Stone Age man thousands of years ago. For example, tools from the Neolithic period would be 4000 to 6000 years old. These initial finds sparked an interest in history and Angus now has an impressive collection of various arrow heads and blades. Some flint fragments are not tools and have simply been chipped or split by cultivation equipment. You can always tell the ones that are tools because if you look closely you can see the tiny even marks that show where man painstakingly worked the flint shard into a usable and sharp arrow head or blade.

Moving on in location and time, to our 500-acre farm at Sacrewell near Peterborough, we have 2 historic features. In the field called ‘Toll Bar’ near the A47 are a set of enclosures, ring ditches and barrows from the Bronze Age and Iron Age period. Further in, toward the centre of the farm in a field called ‘Pit Close’ is a Roman ironworking site and the sites of two extensive Roman buildings –likely to be villas or a farmstead.

For these two fields we entered into a stewardship agreement with Natural England where we receive a payment for establishing grassland of high biodiversity value (native grasses and wild flowers) and not ploughing for at least 10 years. This helps to avoid the archaeology being further degraded by cultivation and creates a rich and diverse habitat for wildlife. I took the photo above in May looking across Pit Close with a stunning show of oxeye daisies.

new-york-pennyI had always hoped to find a Roman coin at Sacrewell and last year I was lucky enough to spot one lying on the surface in one of the vegetable fields. Old coins are often so worn away that it is hard to identify them but this coin still had markings. I believe it is from around 160 AD and shows an image of Faustina the wife of Marcus Aurelius.

Another coin I found was in circulation between 1726 and 1794 known as a ‘Duit’ or New York Penny. These copper coins were issued by the Dutch East India Company and were used when New York was a young Dutch colony. Quite why this particular coin ended up in a field near Peterborough is a bit of a mystery.

pottery-fragment-from-a-bellarmine-jug I found an intriguing piece of pot in a field where we were growing parsnips near Dawlish in Devon. You can see in the picture the unusual face, which is from a late 16th Century Bellarmine jug, used to hold wine and beer and made in the Netherlands. The face is an image of Cardinal Robert Bellarmine (1542 –1621) who was a bitter opponent of the Dutch Reformed Church. It was common for Protestants to express their dislike for him by smashing the jugs.