Riverford Wicked Leeks


I found Martin, our harvest manager of 14 years, pruning the rosemary outside the office this morning and asked him how things were going. “Croppageddon” he said with a resigned smile, and went back to his work. Botrytis-ridden strawberries, chocolate-spotted broad beans and mildewed onions. Nitrogen-hungry rocket, stunted pumpkins and rotting artichokes. Doom and despair. Will there be a summer of 2012? With another 20 acres of spinach, chard and salad weather-beaten beyond salvage last week, our farm is already £150,000 down and we’re importing to plug the gaps. South African sweet potatoes and Chilean squash in July is a travesty, but it’s that or rattling vegboxes. 

Climate change? Maybe. A younger me would have been cursing the deluge and weeping in despair at my impotence in the face of such overwhelming malign forces. 25 years on I find myself strangely sanguine; there have to be some benefits to ageing. So long as we learn, do not repeat stupid mistakes (some on our farm in France, but very few here) and make the most of our chances when the weather breaks (as we have), I can be philosophical. It isn’t personal any more…what a relief. And it’s not all bad. The deluge drowned the flea beetles which can plague our emerging brassicas, allowing the swedes to get away, and on the whole the potatoes are doing well as they like the water and it’s been too cold for the blight to take hold. The normally fickle parsnips are up in a good stand and most carrot crops are OK, if late. We are, however, going to be desperately short of anything green for another month. If only you had rumens; we have more grass than the cows can eat.

I know you're due a happy newsletter and I hate conforming to the whinging farmer stereotype, but the best I can offer is a little philosophy, a few excuses, thanks for your loyalty, and, to end the whinge, hope of bounty in August.

Guy Watson

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