Guy’s news: A temporary reprieve

Three months of dry easterlies ended last weekend with a westerly gale sweeping in off the Atlantic, accompanied by persistent, anxiety-quenching rain. Even our drenched pickers were relieved. Should we thank our cosmically attuned farm worker Raph and a few other rain dancers? Did a butterfly flap its wings somewhere? Whatever the cause, it feels like balance and benevolence have temporarily been restored; even the cooing of our pigeons sounds pleased.

The rain was patchy and localised, but we got lucky, with 44mm showing in the rain gauge. The water disappeared without trace, sucked down into the thirsty ground with no run-off. Within two days the surface looked almost as parched as before – but, critically, digging shows that the moisture from the surface soaked in to meet the moisture at depth. The effect on our plants’ turgidity, leaf colour and growth was almost instant. Most fields could suck up another 3-4 inches of rain before any soaked away to the subsoil or ran off to water courses.

The rain has saved many crops, giving them time to develop the root systems that will find moisture at depth. We have now finished planting the leeks, cabbage, kale, cauliflower and broccoli that will provide most of the greens in your boxes through autumn and winter. The more demanding summer crops will be okay for a fortnight, but once they have a full canopy of leaves, potatoes will draw an inch or more of water from the soil each week… We are not yet out of trouble. For now, it is a pleasure to walk the fields and see crops growing without stress, in ideal conditions. The gale accompanying the rain damaged delicate crops like courgettes and pumpkins, and lodged (bent over) some sweetcorn, but this was a small price to pay for the water.

It is too soon to count the cost of the drought. The bolted lettuces, yellowing spinach, stunted cabbage, failed peas and so on have put us £200,000 behind budget. More rain within a fortnight and a favourable autumn could see us catch up on the veg, but many dairy farmers have already had to feed a good part of their winter forage rations to their cows. With luck we will have a long back end (autumn stretching into early winter), allowing cows to stay out grazing fresh grass for longer, and forage to be preserved.

Guy Singh-Watson

 

5 vegetarian BBQ recipes

To plan a BBQ during a typical British summer you need to have a dash of optimism and good waterproofs. However, this year has been an exception. Although the hot weather is a challenge in the fields, the evenings are long, warm and ideal for gathering with friends and family to share an alfresco feast.

Sweetcorn is a sign of late summer; an iconic seasonal star. It’s also great vegan option if you are looking for something a bit different to put on the grill. We deliver it with the leaves intact to keep it fresh – natural packaging at its best.

With an abundance of summer veg, it’s great to have some new takes on old favourites: everyone loves potato salad, so here is a fresh version of a classic BBQ side, and a vegetarian salad niçoise featuring sweet, rich roasted cherry tomatoes makes a wonderful accompaniment. We also look forward to the first Padron peppers (pimientos de padrón). They originally hail from Galicia but we’ve discovered they also like growing on our farm in France. Some are hot and some are not – it’s impossible to tell which is which. Always great fun to eat and easy to make, serve them alongside your BBQ feast or as a starter.

BBQ Sweetcorn with Chipotle & Charred Limes

Smoky corn, spicy mayonnaise and zesty-sweet caramelised limes make a delectable trio that’s even better washed down with a cool beer. If it rains on your parade and you need to take your BBQ inside, this recipe also works well roasted in an oven.

See full barbecued sweetcorn with chipotle and charred limes recipe.

Padron Peppers

Play Russian roulette with Padron peppers grown by Guy’s team on our farm in France. These small green peppers are all the rage in tapas bars – fry or grill until blistering and serve with sea salt. Most are mild, some have moderate heat – and watch out for the occasional lurker with a real kick.

See our simple how to cook Padron peppers recipe

Courgette & Halloumi Kebabs with Green Tahini Dressing

A great vegetarian option for a BBQ or a simple summery lunch. Try with zephyr courgettes, grown on our co-op farmer Antony Coker’s farm, to add a dash of yellow to the table. It’s worth making extra of the nutty, creamy tahini dressing; it goes well with most roasted veg.

See full courgette & halloumi kebabs with green tahini dressing recipe.

Broad Bean, Saffron & New Potato Salad

This warm salad combines two of the best veg Britain has to offer at this time of year. The bright red saffron threads add a wonderful colour and subtle flavour but use it sparingly, or the flavour can be cloying. Try using a small handful of chervil for a slightly different flavour to parsley, or alternatively some chopped chives.

See full broad bean, saffron & new potato salad recipe.

Roasted Tomato Niçoise Salad

This is a substantial, flavour-packed French summer classic, with the roasted cherry tomatoes add extra intensity. At this time of year our tomatoes come from our polytunnels; you can’t beat them on taste. Each season we trial and test new varieties to be sure we are always growing the most flavoursome ones.

See the full roasted tomato niçoise salad recipe.

Guy’s news: Is this how it starts?

Ever hotter, ever drier, with empty reservoirs and no sign of respite. ‘Stay calm,’ says John, our serene farm manager – but I feel myself becoming increasingly unhinged in the heat. It feels personal. Tantalising but ever-receding suggestions of thunder are torture as we watch stressed lettuces run to seed for lack of water and normally robust cabbages retreat into themselves, attempting to hang on to what they have. Those who have seen Gérard Depardieu as the tax inspector turned farmer in Jean de Florette will have the picture: he loses his mind while his farm collapses around him for lack of water. Gérard’s drought turns out to be caused by nothing more than a covered spring, maliciously blocked by his covetous neighbours. I am not sure our problem is so simple.

The sun, normally welcome, becomes a cruel and unforgiving enemy when water is short. Is the driest and hottest summer since 1976 mere weather, or anthropogenic climate change? Our primitive ancestors might question whether they had buried enough corn dollies or worshipped the right deity. If all else failed, they might sacrifice a goat. Of course, we know better; we are so clever and enlightened that we burnt millions of years’ worth of fossil fuels in one generation, dashing for growth. Is this an early manifestation of the predicted resulting climate change? Perhaps it is too soon to say with authority – but by the time we have that authority, it will be too late; the melting regions of permafrost will be emitting methane in a positive feedback loop with consequences the most accomplished climate scientists can only guess at.

So, is this how it starts? Is this how it will be when our self-regulating natural planet, that has looked after us and tolerated (even compensated for) our abuses, can no longer take the punches? As the crops wilt and the ground cracks, I must remind myself that no one here will die; this is a matter of convenience and bank balances. But it is also a window into the world where food security and seasonal rains are already matters of life and death for subsistence farmers. There will be no spring to unearth; corn dollies will not help. For those farmers and for ourselves, we must learn to share more and live with less. It is our appetite for cheap and convenient energy, not goats, that we must sacrifice.

Guy Singh-Watson

Feeding food surplus to pigs safely: a win for farmers and the environment?

Pigs have the potential to turn a massive food waste problem into a tasty solution. However, feeding food waste to pigs is currently banned in the UK, after illegal practices by a farmer in the ‘90s lead to the disastrous effects of Foot and Mouth Disease.

Feedback’s The Pig Idea are campaigning to reintroduce food waste feed to pigs in the UK, to potentially make a use for 2.5 million tonnes of wasted food a year.

There are still some questions about how it would work, especially in organic farming, but it’s clear that The Pig Idea has the potential to make a huge difference to waste, pig welfare, and the environment. Karen Luyckx from The Pig Idea explains more in this guest blog. We’re interested to hear what you, our customers think; you can give your feedback in the short survey linked below.

Photo Credit – Chris King Photography / The Pig Idea

For thousands of years, humans have fed pigs on food waste. Pigs were domesticated to be the original recycling banks – or “piggy banks” – enthusiastically eating food that was inedible to humans and converting it into edible food in the form of pork. But omnivorous livestock like poultry and pigs are now primarily fed on crops like soy, rapeseed, wheat and barley using up valuable land and resources.

I’ve lived and worked for six years in Bolivia and seen with my own eyes the devastation done by large-scale soya farming in the Amazon. It’s heart-breaking to see such unparalleled biodiversity turned into a green desert of soy monoculture as far as the eye can see.

Photo credit – Adriano Gambarini / WWF Brazil.

The UK imports 2.5 million tonnes of soy a year mostly for use in livestock. Even though the industry is busily looking for more eco-friendly replacements, the total volume of soy imports keeps rising year on year, with the great majority still coming from South America and organic soy from as far as China.

Soy is needed in pig and chicken diets because of it offers high quality plant proteins necessary for omnivorous animals fed on plant-based feed only. Meat-containing leftovers were banned for all livestock, regardless of these being herbivores or omnivores, after a farmer illegally fed untreated food waste to pigs and caused the disastrous Foot and Mouth outbreak in 2001.

But we now have the opportunity and the evidence to revisit safe, economically and environmentally attractive ways to reintroduce the use of food surplus as feed. In the same way that we should cook chicken properly to make sure it is safe and avoid raw chicken juice getting onto our plates, we will need to cook the surplus food to kill off disease and then make sure we store and transport it safely. Japan already does this in modern treatment plants. Please see the REFRESH expert report for more information on the safety measures.

Surplus food treatment plant in Japan

Feeding more food waste to pigs and chickens could yield substantial benefits. If the whole of Europe were to feed heat-treated surplus food to pigs at the same rate as is currently done in Japan, we could save global agricultural land equal to the size of Wales, including hundreds of thousands of acres of South America’s biodiverse forests and savannahs.

And the United Nations estimates that if farmers all around the world fed their livestock on the food we currently waste and on agricultural by-products, enough grain would be liberated to feed an extra three billion people, more than the additional number expected to be sharing our planet by 2050.

For the UK, Feedback has calculated that about 2.5 million tonnes of food that currently goes to waste could be used to feed pigs and chickens, that’s about 20% of the UK’s total food waste.

Current feed costs – representing over 60% of total production cost of pork – are a nightmare for farmers. At the same time, in Japan, surplus food to feed treatment plants produce feed at half the cost of conventional feed. Reducing feed costs may support farmers’ livelihoods and help increase investment in animal welfare.

This pig has just enjoyed an exciting whey and veggie leftover porridge (currently allowed). Photo by Feedback.

Looking at the science, we also know that deficiencies in certain types of protein may exacerbate tail and ear biting in pigs. While tail biting is caused by a combination of factors, replacing conventional feed with heat-treated leftovers that contain meat may contribute to a reduction in tail biting, allowing pigs to return to the type of diet they have evolved to eat as omnivores.

This is why Feedback calls on the UK to lift the current ban on using catering waste and food surplus, from retail and manufacturing, as feed for omnivorous non-ruminant livestock, such as pigs and chickens. We propose that this ban is replaced with robust legislation regulating the treatment of this surplus food in off-farm licensed processing facilities so that it is safe.

Read our report to find out more about why feeding leftovers to pigs and chickens is safe and why it is a win-win for farmers and the environment. We also hope it is a win for people who love a tasty sausage or pork chop but worry about the impact conventional livestock production has on the environment, but we would love to hear what you think.

What you can do to help?
Fill out our 10 minute survey to share your views with us.

Guy’s news: Smiling in the face of calamity

The reservoirs are all but empty. We have kept back just enough to water our five acres of tunnels; the outdoor crops will have to fend for themselves. Without rain, the shallow-rooting, quick-growing and water-demanding crops like lettuce, spinach and rocket will start suffering within a week and be unmarketable in two. Prospects for broccoli and potatoes aren’t much better.

Beyond the reach of irrigation pipes, we are planting out leeks, cabbages, kales and cauliflowers; the crops that will keep your boxes full over the winter. In most cases the land was ploughed and a seed bed made while still moist in May; this effectively seals the moisture in and conserves it until planting. We plant as deeply and as firmly as possible, and most of the plants are getting their roots out and down into the moisture before the sun sucks the life out of them. Though we will probably invest in more winter fill reservoirs, the cheapest way to provide water is to prepare a ‘stale’ seed bed (with a loose, fine top layer that prevents capillary action from drawing water to the surface) early in the year; this also helps with weed control. However, leaving bare seed beds for extended periods while we wait to plant brings the risk of catastrophic soil loss from erosion in heavy rain. Damned if you plough early, damned if you plough late.

In contrast, tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, sweetcorn and basil are lapping up the heat; in fact, we face a basil glut, so this is the time make pesto (£4.25 for 200g). Our cardoons, long since too tough to eat, are now coming into flower; the bees love them, but I reckon they can spare a few. You can order one for £1/stem, with 90p going to Send a Cow. They look and smell fantastic.

Despite the impending disaster, everyone seems remarkably calm, relaxed and even happy. Like our World Cup team, there is a feeling that we have done our best and what will be, will be. It could be the sunshine or the move to employee ownership; it could be that we have our best team ever and increasingly are leaving them to make their own decisions. Whatever the reason, we are making the most of our chances, which is all we can do in a year like this. In an act of defiant optimism, we are still sowing and planting salads; there seems to be some hope of a change in the weather towards the end of the month.

Guy Singh-Watson

5 Riverford recipes for broad beans

Broad beans are the only beans that are truly happy in our damp, cool climate; so much so that the first sowings can be made in late October to November, though a February sowing often produces a better crop and only a week or two later. The first flowers appear in April, releasing a gorgeous scent to draw in the few bees that are hardy enough to venture out.

Like many children, Guy dreaded the dry furriness of broad beans. In his middle years however, the smell of them makes his ‘heart skip a beat’, and at Riverford we look forward to their brief season.

When young and small, they are best raw in salads. Leave double-podding – a pleasing task but time-consuming – for later in the season when the beans are getting hard, pale and much larger. Double-podding reveals their verdant inner green and rids the sometimes bitter skins – eating them this way can be revolutionary and convert even the most stubborn of broad bean hater.

Crushed Broad Bean Bruschetta

crushed broad bean bruschetta recipe
A delectable vegetarian springtime starter. Two lovely additions: spread your toasted bread with a little fresh ricotta before piling on the beans, or top the crushed beans with crispily fried pancetta or bacon lardons.

See full crushed broad bean bruschetta recipe.

Gnocchi with Courgettes, Broad Beans & Peas

gnocchi & crème fraîche with courgettes, broad beans & peas recipe
The gnocchi and courgettes cook fast, leaving you plenty of time to pod your peas and beans. Podding has a meditative quality to it. If it’s speed rather than enlightenment you’re after, split the pile in half and race someone. You can use the broad beans with their skins on, but if you have time it’s worth slipping them from their skins

See full gnocchi & crème fraîche with courgettes, broad beans & peas recipe.

Moroccan Carrot & Buckwheat Crêpes with Broad Bean Salad

moroccan carrot & buckwheat crêpes with warm broad bean & herb salad recipe
Moroccan spices go well with carrots, and other roots for that matter. We’re using toasted buckwheat, aka kasha, as the filling for the crêpes alongside the veg and spices. It’s a gluten-free seed with a nutty flavour, a great source of protein, fibre and other nutrients. Following the theme, we’re also using buckwheat flour, which is used in traditional French-style crêpes. It gives the crêpes a slightly darker colour.

See full moroccan carrot & buckwheat crêpes with warm broad bean & herb salad recipe.

Broad Bean Dip

broad bean dip recipe
Eat as a dip with slices of pitta or salady bits, or use as a sandwich filler. A healthy green alternative to the usual chickpea hummus. This is a good way to use up older, larger beans, but make sure you double pod them before puréeing. It’s worth finishing with some good olive oil.

See full broad bean dip recipe.

Broad Bean Fritters

broad bean fritters recipe
These simple fritters make a good vegetarian main course but you could also serve smaller ones as starters or canapés for a summer party (they can be made in advance and gently warmed through in a low oven). Kids generally love them, particularly the dinky-sized ones.

See full broad bean fritters recipe.

Guy’s news: Unknown unknowns, freak weather and screw-ups

Before Donald Rumsfeld gave the world ‘unknown unknowns’, Riverford had the Screw-up Factor. My early budgetary computations included an estimate of crop risk arising from poor germination, pestilence, adverse weather, market forces and human error. The estimates were based on experience to date. But what about the previously unexperienced; freak weather, unknown diseases or mineral deficiencies? These were accounted for in the Screw-up Factor.

My 30 years of growing have been a long battle to reduce the Screw-up Factor. It started at 30% of the budget, but with accumulating experience we have brought it down to about 10%. That victory, our success, and the affordability of our veg are all dependent on refining our practices to make the best of the conditions we know. If those conditions change, we are back to square one.

I am typing this on the train home from our farm in the Vendée, where our well laid plans were trodden into the mud by a wet start to the year. The last two very dry summers in France suggested our investment priority there should be a new reservoir; this year, we have barely used our existing water store, and 10% of our budget will not come close to covering the losses. At home in Devon, even 30% may not cover the consequences of a ten-week drought.

I am reluctant to attribute it prematurely to changing climate, but this pattern of longer and more frequent periods of extreme weather does fit the predictions for climate change. In temperate Devon, with enough time and investment we can adjust to substantial changes in the norm. What’s harder to adapt to is unpredictability; the widening variation that ‘the norm’ may become.

Having abandoned the frosted beans, some weed-smothered sweetcorn, and split kohlrabi and turnips, the remainder of the Vendéen crops look good. The first corn will be in your boxes this week, possibly along with a few grubs of the corn borer moth; once rare in our region, but moving north in hot years. The obviously affected cobs are graded out, but some will inevitably get through – let us know if you get one and we will refund you. We did release predators that achieve a good level of control over these pests, but it seems we should have released them earlier. Another screw-up, but at least this one we can learn from.

Guy Singh-Watson

Summer wines by Ben Watson

Guy’s brother Ben is somewhat of a sommelier. Each season he meticulously selects new wines for us to add to our drink offering. In this blog he talks through our summer wines, and why they made the cut. We hope you’ll enjoy them too.

Rosé
For many, the idea of a good summer wine is a light, crisp, salmon pink rosé and we’ve two old favourites to choose from. Mas de Longchamp’s rosé never fails to deliver and being (in Provence rosé terms) from the ‘wrong side of the tracks’, Bouches du Rhône, it is great value for money; £9 becomes £29 alarmingly quickly as you move east along the Côte d’Azur.

We also have Domaine Begude pinot rosé. Pressed immediately to give the faintest of colour, it’s a joy to drink on a sunny summers day. More manufactured rosés are often marked by sweet strawberry flavours, reminiscent of, dare I say it, Opal Fruits, or Starbursts as they are called today. With this rosé, the natural, intense wild strawberry mixed with a hint of acidic cranberry works a treat.

If rosé with bubbles is your thing, there’s never been a better time to buy our La Jara Rosato Frizzante. While Prosecco prices go through the roof, the Rosato Frizzante, enriched with a little red Raboso, can’t address itself as such because it’s not made from 100% Prosecco (Glera) grapes. Their loss is our gain however, because it’s the Raboso that lifts it to another level of food friendliness, and the fact that it also makes it cheaper is a wine win win.

Red
Growers in Western Europe had a bad time in 2017: late, bud destroying, frosts were followed by blistering heat, resulting in pathetically low yields. So our allocation of the red Domaine Begude Pinot Noir has been drastically cut. Low yields increased the intensity so what’s lost in quantity is made up for in quality and the price is pretty much the same as last year. Slightly chilled to around 14°C, it’s a match for all manner of poultry and vegetable dishes and salads.

Fedele
Sicily didn’t suffer as badly as most, and our Fedele wines really come into their own when the barbecues are lit. The Nero d’Avola has that sweet fruit edge that works with charred, caramelised meats and the Catarratto Pinot Grigio is a wine no fridge door should be without. Not surprisingly, they’ve been a big hit so, from the same winemaking team, we’re also offering the more boutique-y Santa Tresa Cerasuolo di Vittoria and Grillo Viognier.

Cerasuolo di Vittoria is Sicily’s first DOCG wine (the highest designation of quality among Italian wines) – a curious, but successful, marriage of intense, ripe, dark Nero d’Avola and light, summer fruit flavoured Frappato. Best slightly chilled, it’s good with any tomato based pasta dish or dense, oily fish like mackerel. Cerasuolo di Vittoria’s are often north of £15 so an award-winning, organic version for £11 ticks all the boxes. It certainly did with wine critic Jancis Robinson who scored the last two vintages tasted 16 and 17 out of 20.

The Grillo Viognier also got a good write-up from her. With a bouquet of tropical fruits, hints of vanilla and a palate hitting that perfect balance between ripe fruit and racy acidity, it’s hard not to like. Again, it’s fantastic value at £9.95.

Quinta Das Maias
We also have a couple more, slightly less seasonal, new listings. Both from Quinta Das Maias in the Dao uplands, central Portugal, these are serious wines, punching way above their price tag. If the Douro is the Bordeaux of Portugal, the Dao is a combination of Northern Rhone and Burgundy; far less glitzy and more down to earth – and cheaper. The whole region is a high granitic belt so the wines tend to be lean, with a mineral edge. The white is a revelation. The high altitude gives lovely acidity, and crisp, yet soft, white peach-like stone fruits dominate with a zesty finish.

The red is equally good, tasting like a wine that costs a lot more than £10.45. It’s well balanced and fruity, but with a sense of the austere granite upland soil and a long savoury finish. A blend of Jaen (known as Mencia in Spain), Touriga Nacional and a few other grapes no one has heard of, it’s great with roast meats but fresh enough to serve a little cooler in the summertime.

Ben Watson

Shop our selection of organic summer wines here.

 

Guy’s news: Praying for thunder

Diving into the last swimmable reservoir is getting perilous. Carp are digging into the mud in those already empty. Two thirds of our irrigation water is gone, leaving only enough to water our vulnerable crops for another two weeks; had we not invested in sealing a leaking reservoir last year, we would already be dry. Now, with high pressure anchored over the Atlantic, only thunder can help us.

Our agronomist’s report makes grim reading: carrots, cabbages, lettuce, chard, potatoes, leeks… all are delayed or reduced in yield, with quality problems anticipated for what remains. The reasons are always ‘delayed planting due to the wet spring’ followed by ‘lack of water’. To give some sort of return to our co-op farmers and keep the boxes full, it is likely that we will need to be more flexible on specifications where eating quality is not significantly impaired. It is often better to harvest a struggling lettuce, cabbage or head of broccoli at a lower weight, than to leave it another week to limp on, gaining a few grams but becoming yellow, tough and bitter with dehydration.

We have had some nervous summers before – but the crunch has never come so early. We still have the right to draw water from a tributary of the River Dart under an abstraction license my father took out in the 1960s, but it would leave the stream bed virtually dry, and still not be enough to satisfy the thirst. Slate, our underlying rock, is relatively impervious, so boreholes do not work unless you are very lucky. The only commercially viable option (and the most environmentally favourable) is to build clay-lined winter fill reservoirs wherever there is a valley bottom wide enough. To invest in an asset that is used so unpredictably (on average every 30 years) is a bold move, but perhaps climate change is shifting the odds – and at least we will have somewhere to swim.

It isn’t all doom. The heat and sun-loving tomatoes are early and looking great. Cucumbers are massively ahead of schedule with heavy yields, and sweetcorn and pumpkins are also looking good. We have had a few thundery showers this week, amounting to a very welcome inch of water; enough to germinate the swedes and allow recently planted leeks, cabbages and caulis to get their roots down into the moisture reserves below. Now we’re just praying for more.

Guy Singh-Watson

Guy Singh-Watson on Desert Island Discs – what did he pick?

Guy Singh-Watson (photo – BBC & Amanda Benson)

This Sunday, our very own Guy Singh-Watson, Riverford founder, was the castaway on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs. Guy spoke to host Kirsty Young about his life in food, organic farming, and his quest for a more ethical way of doing business. In case you missed it, it’s available to listen again here – or read about his choices below.

1) Kenny Rogers, Lucille
For all that Guy is prone to a good rant, he can also be rather ‘soppy’; a trait that the emotional directness of country music appeals to. This first track Guy recalled singing sadly to himself, alone in his tractor, while his first marriage was hitting the rocks. At the time, he really did have four children (although they weren’t hungry) and crops in the fields!

2) Tofu Love Frogs, Vegetable Attack
One of the major perks of working at Riverford is the parties; we have two big ones a year, and they’re always a night to remember! Back in the day, they used to be even wilder. This track took Guy back to one of the best: a Halloween knees-up featuring magic mushrooms (nowadays we stick to pints of Prosecco), and memorable live music from Tofu Love Frogs.

3) Harry Belafonté, Chickens
Guy’s mother Gillian played a huge role in shaping Riverford: she passed her irrepressible enthusiasm for food and cooking on to her five children, all of whom now work in food and farming. Gillian grew up in Trinidad, and always loved calypso music – especially the devilishly handsome Harry Belafonté.
Throughout Guy’s childhood, the farm was always on the brink of bankruptcy. John Watson was years ahead of his time, determined to do things his own way, such as giving his beloved pigs a remarkably high standard of welfare. His way was often right, but it wasn’t often profitable. Belafonté’s line ‘This isn’t funny, we’re losing money…’ rang true.

4) The Sex Pistols, Anarchy in the UK
A ‘proper little farm boy’, Guy spent his youth outside, clambering up trees, catching rabbits, rearing his own pig and selling manure from the farm gate. This left him a little out of step with his generation… something that was brought home to him with particular punch when he was taken by friends to see The Sex Pistols. With no idea what to expect, he found himself, ‘probably wearing a tweed jacket’, in a crowd of spitting, pogoing Plymothians.

5) Jimmy Somerville & Bronski Beat, Smalltown Boy
After studying Agriculture and Forestry Science at Oxford and a brief return to the farm, Guy left for London to try something new. He bought himself a snappy suit, got a job in management consultancy – and much to his surprise, was such a success that he was asked to open an office in Manhattan. Those heady days, in London and New York, were when he ‘started living life a bit’ – and the gay clubs were where the music was always best.

This track, by the brave and highly principled Jimmy Somerville, was Guy’s #1 pick of the show.

6) Talking Heads, Once in a Lifetime
Management consultancy was ‘stimulating but morally bankrupt’. Eventually Guy gave up, chucked his office keys into the Hudson River, and moved up to a remote island in Maine to teach kids sailing. No drink, no drugs; just lots of sailing, swimming, running and rowing. He also spent a lot of time in the kitchen, listening to Talking Heads with the chef while they cooked up macrobiotic meals. Eventually Guy got his head screwed back on straight… and came to the conclusion that he needed to start his own business.

7) Leonard Cohen, I’m Your Man
In 2014, Guy married fellow organic entrepreneur Geetie Singh. This song – the epitome of Cohen’s coolness, sexiness and humour – played at their wedding.

8) Grace Jones, Pull Up to the Bumper
Guy’s final choice was the one and only Grace Jones: her originality, sass and strength, streaks ahead of her time, take him right back to the wild streets of New York.

Book choice: Thomas Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd. Guy has always admired the character of Gabriel Oak as a role model.

Luxury: A surfboard – Kirsty says he’s allowed it as long as he doesn’t use it to paddle to another island!