Riverford Wicked Leeks

brave brassicas + field workers

a word from Guy on Christmas deliveries and frozen veg

So far we have managed to make most deliveries and the boxes have been looking OK as they leave the farm; not our best but pretty good under the circumstances. All the roots are now harvested for the Christmas boxes but we are really struggling with the brussels sprouts, savoys and leeks.Until now we have managed to harvest enough in the brief afternoon thaw, but with continuing bitter cold and snow we are now having to harvest frozen veg, brush off the worst of snow and ice, and, hoping for the best, put it in the boxes.

I am fairly confident that it will thaw out on the way to you ready for Christmas, but you can never be entirely sure how it will thaw. We are also unable to do the normal final quality check through the ice. If any of your veg is not up to our normal standard please let us know and we will refund or replace it in the new year.

Guy Watson

and tales from the frosty fields from picker Ed in Devon

Spirits in the fields are holding up; we take the rough with the smooth. This bitter winter is the penalty for having a good summer, the best we’ve had for two or three years.


You may find some raggedy leaves on your leeks; as we trim them we're cutting through ice so they can whip off at a funny angle. They and the ground are frozen solid. We have a team of three, one more than usual, and we are using a fork to loosen the leeks from the ground. We can't pull them as we usually do or they'll snap. Progress is slow; we would usually do five crates an hour but right now it’s one or two. Normally we trim the leeks in the field, ready for the boxes, but instead we’re half filling crates and then taking them into the fridge to defrost gradually. They are then trimmed, and the outer leaves pulled off.


Although it’s easy to see the leeks as they sit high and proud, the cabbages are completely hidden under white mounds. First we gently kick the stump of the cabbage to shake the snow off and see whether it’s big enough to pick. We then rough cut them (we would normally pick them and pull off the outer leaves ready for the boxes). The frozen leaves go translucent and will go rotten, although you can’t tell from the outside. We then take them inside and the following day peel back the leaves that have frozen (which would otherwise rot). You’ll probably find that the cabbages are smaller than normal because we have to peel back more leaves. With the snow, then thaw, then cold again, the ground is like sandpaper and we have to cut the cabbages across at ground level. I cut the skin off my knuckles but my hands were so cold I didn’t notice until I saw red in the snow. Time for new gloves!


Most of the swede was picked at the end of October and early November. We picked a bit more last week to top up. Most of it is under fleece to protect it from insects, which has also kept off the worst of the frost.

Fortunately we're close to what we need. Tomorrow we'll trim up the leeks and may find that we have to pick a few more if they don't reach the weight we’re after. It's -7degC tonight. Nearly finished.

Ed Scott