field update

The first of our French and runner beans are finally ready and will be in the larger boxes this week and all the boxes next week, and there should be plenty over the next few weeks. We have machine which, on a good day, will pick the French beans automatically and 700 times faster than our fastest picker. On a bad day it leaves half the beans in the field, bruises those it does not pick and can drive a grown man to tears. Every year it gets rolled out for a couple of optimistic outings before being parked back in the barn amid a torrent of abuse and we go back to picking them by hand.

We have been trying to grow 'wild' rocket for a couple of years with mixed success. It has a smaller, more finely indented leaf than the normal cultivated rocket and definitely has a better flavour and is less prone to going yellow and slimy in the bag. Unfortunately it is much more difficult grow and as part of its wild character, has highly unprecdictable germination. After some pretty poor crops we finally have some good sowings which germinated during the wet weather in late June and early July. It is in most of the boxes this week and you will be seeing plenty of it over the next few weeks. Beacuse of its strong flavour you will find that it can be mixed fairly sparsely with your lettuce in a salad. Alternatively it makes a great sandwich in French bread, perhaps with some brie.

Every three years we get reassessed as an 'Investor In People'. Last week we passed with flying colours and once again it came out what a friendly place Riverford is to work and how much people enjoyed the informal and inclusive way that we do things. I am very proud that we have managed to maintain this atmosphere as the business has grown. I am convinced that at least part of it can be attributed to our new staff canteen which enables staff from different areas of the business to meet informally and enjoy a wonderful lunch. The benefit to the business is that the communication allows issues to be resolved effortlessly, before they become problems and without the need for laborious meetings.

Guy Watson