This week will be our busiest ever. As I write there is still time for a few last minute panics but short of a herd of deer eating your sprouts or a Grinch springing a nighttime raid on the barn, those boxes should be on your doorsteps. You might call me a Grinch, (and my children often do) but the sudden change in the nations' diet at Christmas is a challenge for those selling fresh produce.
There was the year when we ran out of sprouts but were promised a top up of "perfect" sprouts from a grower in Herefordshire. They arrived, grey with aphids, the day before the boxes were to be packed. Terrified of the implications of a sprout free Christmas, 30 people worked through the night scrubbing off aphids with nailbrushes. We always seem to run out of something and spend the last few days scouring the country in search of organic Christmas puddings, clotted cream, nuts or satsumas. We keep a watchful eye on the weather because frost can catch us out by making it impossible to pick the green veggies. Really hard weather or persistent rain can make it impossible to harvest the roots. On the ideal Christmas Eve we are looking at an empty cold room with the minimum of messages from irate customers on the answer phone.
The weather has been kind and things are looking pretty good so far this year. It looks as if all my friends and relatives will be getting those Booja Booja chocolates; just as well they taste so good. I am sure they will smell better in a stocking than Brussels sprouts.
Grinching aside, once the shopping is out of the way, I love Christmas and particularly that state of suspended, relaxed goodwill which seems to arrive sometime between Christmas and New Year when the whole nation (almost) has had a few synchronous days off. May your turkey or nut roast be perfect, and may suspended goodwill arrive without requiring too much alcohol. Happy Christmas from us all at Riverford.