Self-confessed veg nerd, Guy Singh-Watson has over the last 30 years taken Riverford from one man and a wheelbarrow delivering homegrown organic veg to friends, to a national veg box scheme delivering to around 50,000 customers a week.
Guy is an inspirational, passionate, opinionated and admired figure in the world of organic farming, who still spends more time in the fields than in the boardroom. Twice awarded BBC Radio 4 Farmer of the Year, Guy is passionate about sharing with others the organic farming and business knowledge he has accumulated over the last three decades. His video rants have provided a powerful platform to do this, with a video on pesticides going viral on Facebook to reach 5.6 million views and 91,000 shares. His weekly veg box newsletters connect customers to the farm with refreshingly honest accounts of the trials and tribulations of producing organic food, and the occasional rant about farming, ethical and business issues he feels strongly about.
Guy has always believed that organic food should not be elitist, but accessible for everyone. He has built Riverford to give a fair deal to all – growers, staff, customers and the planet. All of this was recognised in 2015 when Riverford veg boxes were awarded Ethical Product of the Decade at the Observer Ethical Awards.
Guy has always seen profit as a means not an end. Rejecting numerous investor approaches, Guy always vowed not to allow Riverford to become an enterprise driven purely by the bottom line, or controlled by outside investors. He stuck to his word and on June 8th 2018 sold 74% of Riverford to its employees, at about one third of the market value. He wants to prove that business can be a force for good, and is confident that staff ownership will protect and develop Riverford’s model of sustainable food production and lock in place the values on which the business was founded.
Guy is proof of what determination and belief in a better way of doing things can bring - that you can be both an ethical business and commercially effective. Many see Riverford as not just a source of good food, but as representing hope for a better food system for all.
Will Waters: “What an inspiration Riverford is. Guy sets the best example of any company boss I can think of. Both ethically and morally while maintaining an incredible standard of product and service. I hope this example of an alternative approach to business leads others to follow suit.”
Caroline Lennartsson: “Guy, I have immense respect for you and your tireless pioneering work over the many years.”