farm news extra - the realities of modern farming

In the last farm news (3.11.05), I invited anyone who might have seen a recent piece in the Times, that raised a whole raft of issues about the realities of modern organic farming, to get in touch. This is my attempt to fill in the background and look behind some of the points raised in the article. It the end, it is also an assessment of where Riverford Organic Vegetables is today, how we got here and some of the big questions we and fellow farmers face in the future.

HISTORY

My father, John Watson, started farming at Riverford in 1952. Apart from three years studying agriculture and two years as a management consultant, I have spent the remaining 40 of my 45 years living and working on the farms at Riverford and neighbouring Wash.

I started Riverford Organic Vegetables in 1986 with three acres and achieved full organic certification from the Soil Association in 1987. Initially I supplied local shops, including my brother