blood, sweat and tears for your lettuce

I have escaped to our French farm in the Vendée to help harvest the lettuce, spinach, chard, turnips, kohlrabi and cabbages that have been in the boxes recently. The plan is to use this farm, 250 road miles south of Devon (closer than the Fens), to plug the hungry gap until our home crops are ready, keeping the boxes interesting without trucking veg four times as far from Spain. The soil is fertile and well-drained, water and sunshine hours are plentiful, so why was no-one else doing it? It was a bold and perhaps foolhardy plan for two Englishman and a Frenchman, all well into their middle years, but we swore to each other we’d be on the beach by 5pm each day and carried on blindly. The first year was a disaster and almost finished us, with freak spring weather and many crop failures.

This year, things are going much better with some fantastic crops and much improved organisation keeping costs under control. My partners are still not getting to the beach…but last week I did. The waves were fantastic at a world class break called La Sauzaie; so good that I ended up in hospital with a surfboard fin in my leg. Fifty stitches later and my leg in plaster, I am back in the field directing operations with my crutches. Time to slow down? It has been suggested.   

vegbox promoters wanted
We have a few star salesmen on the farms but most of us are a bit bashful, so the good ones get stretched thin during the summer. Having stood awkwardly at shows, scaring people away with my clumsy approaches, I’ve noticed that existing customers are often far better at convincing potential customers that trying a box is not a commitment to a lifetime of expense and dull deprivation. We're hoping to recruit a team of such vegbox enthusiasts to help us at events; we’ll give you some pointers and basic training and you will of course be remunerated, so if it sounds like your cup of tea (or box of veg), email markmoody@riverford.co.uk for details.

Guy Watson from Riverford in Devon