Tag Archives: family

Guy’s news – Family, fuzz & metamorphosis

30 years ago, I returned to my parents’ farm for Christmas as a disillusioned management consultant. I never planned to stay but, from the cocoon of family, the fuzz of Christmas and metamorphosis of New Year I emerged as a suit-free vegetable grower. I don’t recall how or why; it was a decision born in the heart, the gut, or maybe even the stars.

The following three decades of pursuing my passion with only minor compromise feels like a life of indulgence. Farming, and vegetables in particular, can be a soul-crushing master on a bad day but the rewards of doing something so tangible, so close to nature and with such daily autonomy have easily compensated. On a good day an extraordinary peace can descend, something I suspect is unknown to management consultants. It was the best decision I ever made.

A second good decision came with starting the box scheme 25 years ago. Things could, and almost certainly would, have gone so wrong if we’d stuck with selling to the supermarkets. There is not much autonomy to be found in being at the metaphorical end of a buyer’s boots, or indulging their tantrums. Without you, our loyal and sometimes forgiving customers, Riverford would have slipped below the sod long ago.

We planned to give you all some popcorn grown on our farm in France for Christmas, but a damp autumn and a plague of corn borers have determined otherwise, so I hope mere words are an acceptable substitution.

Wishing you merry feasting and a good metamorphosis, should you be seeking one.

Guy Singh-Watson

guy’s newsletter: ‘blow-ins with attitude’

An ageing farmer recently confided that he hadn’t expected my father to see a second harvest when he took on Riverford Farm in 1952, what with his, “fancy cows, combine harvester, silage and new-fangled ways”. Two generations later this neighbour was willing to accept (slightly begrudgingly) that John Watson might have got a few things right.

steep learning curve

There is no doubt that he got a lot of things wrong though. Had he been able to merge his new ideas with some local knowledge and wisdom, life would have been a lot easier. Instead he spent 30 years on the verge of bankruptcy before the ratio of success to failure improved and things finally came good. It was easier for the second generation; we had imbibed some knowledge along with the milk from those cows and had the benefit of witnessing his cock-ups, but we are still regarded as ‘blow-ins with attitude’ by the hardcore locals.

learnings on our French farm

That is how I feel on our farm in France; after four harvests, only one year has as much as broken even. A wet start to 2013 sunk us before we were off the blocks. Since then we have been playing catch up and despite the valiant efforts of my staff and my monthly ‘blow-in’ visits, we haven’t made up for the drowned carrots, beetroot and courgettes. If I had my time again I would have put in drains and formed the land to serve them as most veg growers around here do. It looked brutal to move all that soil around, but I’m starting to see the wisdom in it now. Not that I am going to give up; I am as pig headed as my father and we have got used to the lovely early season veg that bridges our hungry gap so well. We will give it at least another year for the locals to laugh and the French Exchequer to suck some more blood from these English veins.

Back at home I hope you can see from your boxes that we’ve had a much better year. A perfect summer is merging into a perfect autumn that’s bountiful, flavoursome, mud free but not too dry; farming bliss. Long may it last.

Guy Watson

 

Riverford Kids Summer Bake Off!

 

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Roll up your sleeves and get baking!

This summer holiday we’re hoping to encourage more children to don an apron and have a go at baking with our Riverford Kids Summer Bake Off. Each week on a Friday morning we’ll be sharing an easy-to-bake recipe for you to try in the kitchen.

We’re offering a different Riverford goodie bag as a prize each week, so if you’d like to enter, simply send us a picture of your tasty creations and we’ll enter you into our prize draw!

To take part:

Simply download our recipe card, cook up our weekly recipe and then send a photo of you and your baking efforts to us!

For more information visit our Riverford Kids Summer Bake Off page.