News - 2005

Monday 10th May 2010

Our schools dinners for Landscove Primary were recognised as the best in the land by the Soil Association School Food Awards last week. The headmaster, our chef Jane Baxter and their team trooped up to Birmingham to receive the award from the main man, Jamie Oliver. It is amazing how... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Despite the odd humbug comment or festive grumble I do actually enjoy Christmas. As the Haward family has grown and spread itself geographically, Christmas has tended to evolve from being one big family meal on the 25th to a number of feasts running all the way through December. For me... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

We work incredibly hard at River Nene to make our boxes affordable and accessible to all. We also endeavour to make sure that all our customers are happy that they are getting plenty of great quality vegetables in their boxes each week. It is this balance of affordability alongside quality... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

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... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Monday 10th May 2010

It is still raining and we are still up to our axles and knees in mud. One low after another rushes in from the Atlantic, with the windows of fair weather in between being too short to allow the soil to dry. The persistent south and south-westerly winds, though always... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Patriarch Hits 80 My father, John Watson, who took on the church tenancy of Riverford in 1951, spent his 80th birthday pressing apples and raising money for Oxfam. Rumour has it that he has been nicknamed... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

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... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

The winter rains have started and things are starting to get pretty muddy out in the fields. A fair amount of our wonderful soil is finding its way in to the boxes on the bunched carrots. Junior, the variety that you are getting at the moment tastes fantastic but is very... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Despite cutting back on roots a bit in the mini boxes, it is root season. To pack great tasting, high quality roots takes dedication, experience and lots of equipment! Our co-op has invested wisely in another carrot harvester, so they can wait for the ground to drain some after the... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

The amount of packaging we need to use is always a contentious topic at River Nene. We try our hardest to avoid packaging but we have to balance this with making sure that our fruit and vegetables get to you in the freshest possible state. We have taken big strides... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

We are cutting the last of our lettuce crop this week. By mid October the shorter day length and the colder weather starts to take its toll on the less hardy crops. Over the winter months the microbial activity in the soils comes to a near stand still as the... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

As we move into November its great to start enjoying vegetables with some real winter warming capabilities. Parsnips, leeks, swede, kale and sprouts are all starting to feature regularly. Many of you may not have seen Brussels sprouts in their... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

The leaves have turned and started to fall and flocks of birds are starting to think better of it and make their way to warmer climes. My favourite memories of this time of year (like many children) are of conker matches in the playground at school. For my Grandparents conker... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Thank you, to all of you who responded to the straw poll posing the question of... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

In 1993 Guy Watson set up the Riverford Organic box scheme from his family farm near Buckfastleigh in Devon. At the time there were only a handful of schemes in the country selling their produce direct from the farm to peoples doorsteps. Today the box scheme idea has really taken... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

The boxes have been so popular since we started that we have already outgrown the barn we began packing in when we launched in February of this year. So last Friday we packed up all of our River Nene belongings and made the move to a bigger barn. It... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

The squash crop is a bit of a jungle at the moment. I am convinced that some of the children we took out to the fields a few weeks ago are still in there somewhere. We have grown a range of different squashes this year, from the fairly common Butternut... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

With the planting and weeding virtually finished for the year and cooler temperatures removing the need to rush crops from the fields, work slips into a steadier routine. This is my favourite time of year, when we reap the fruits of our summer labour and there is less of a... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Cold and wet weather earlier in the summer has given us some late and uneven crops but there should be plenty of corn in the boxes through September and early October. We are on the northern limit of its climatic range so it is important to choose protected, south facing fields... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

We had our first farm tour at River Nene last week. It... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Monday 10th May 2010

At this time of year, in some of our more established crops, we tend to tolerate quite a bit of weed growth. With the crops like the carrots that are being harvested daily the weeds won... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Most boxes over the next few weeks will enjoy some bunched beetroot. I know beetroot is a little bit of a love/hate vegetable and perhaps won... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Every year I take my family to camp on the cliffs near Start Point. The scenery here is dramatic but farming the thin, stony soil in small fields is labour intensive. This land will never yield the returns of large-scale prairie grain farming, or intensive feedlot production, in countries where... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Late summer and early autumn is a fantastic time for discerning cooks. However there is a saying in the veg trade that bean time is lean time; the suggestion being that when french and runner beans are cropping (mainly August and September) there will be gluts of everything, prices will... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Some companies measure their progress in sales, profits or staff numbers, others in customer satisfaction. I would like to plot our development against beer consumption at the annual staff BBQ and Christmas bash. Experience has taught me that how many turn up, and how long they stay, is as good... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

A low pressure system has settled stubbornly over the British Isles bringing us lots of that gentle drizzle and leaden, grey sky that Devon does so well. Not much good if you are camping, but great for all the young plants that have gone out in the last month. They... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Two centimetres of rain fell on the farm last night. After 20 days of almost wall-to-wall sunshine it was a huge relief for the soil get an opportunity to replenish itself with moisture. Irrigation is essential for growing vegetables but relying on our reserves is costly, time consuming and a... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

The government have just finished a study investigating the distance our food travels from field to plate and the associated economic, social and environmental impact.. Some of their discoveries are really quite striking. Food transportation results in the production of 19 million tonnes of the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, each... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

During the summer your local distributors take every opportunity they can to come out and visit us on the farm. We all had a great day in the sunshine last week, walking the fields and tasting the crops like the broad beans, chard and broccoli before they make their way... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

We have had two horrendous thunderstorms in the last week, each delivering just over two inches of rain. The second, dumped most of its load in about twenty minutes giving even the most open, well structured soil no chance of absorbing the water before it started running off down the... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

The irrigation is running at full bore and the pickers, all but naked by noon, seem to be enjoying it while developing some great tans. For the less hardy, sorting an order in the cold room suddenly seems like an attractive option. Sunshine and hot, still, humid air by day, plus warm nights,... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Years ending in... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

After a lengthy wait it is a great feeling to watch the boxes on their way to you packed full of vegetables from the farm. In hindsight it was probably a mistake to start our scheme in February, with the hungry gap approaching. It wasn... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

June 21st has been celebrated by many cultures throughout the ages owing to it being the longest day of the year in the Northern hemisphere. Customarily, fires were lit on mountaintops, beside rivers and streams and in the market places and streets of the towns. Fertility rites were performed to... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Our first courgettes of the year are making their way into the boxes this week. To kick off the courgette season we thought we... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

June is a wonderful month with all sorts of treats starting to flourish on the farm. Strawberries are now making their way into the fruit boxes (in good time for Wimbledon) and will be available as an extra item in the coming weeks. Jersey Royal and the first Cornish new... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall came down to officially open the Riverford Field Kitchen last week, with his modest and unassuming but enthusiastic manner. It was a pleasure to have him on the farm. We hit it off so well that he has promised to come back and do some demonstrations in the... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

After a slow start to the year we now very busy as we start picking more new season crops. A few casualties to the cold spring are still being missed, but the boxes are looking much better. The next six weeks are the busiest of the year as picking gets... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Most of our crops are in the ground now and are starting to establish themselves. It... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

In the Bama valley in the southern province of Guangxi Zhuang in China there are more people over a hundred years old than anywhere else in the world. Out of 220,000 inhabitants over 70 are enjoying lives as centenarians and nearly 250 residents are in their 90... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

The Iceberg lettuce has certain characteristic attributes. It is tasteless, not particularly nutritious and the least exciting of all the lettuces. It... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

There is a great deal involved in setting up a box scheme, from establishing a grower group through to getting the staff and equipment we need to help us pack the boxes. Back in September last year we approached the government for a little bit of help to get us... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

This week... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

We have had enough warm weather to allow most of our early crops to get established. One or two of the very early sowings failed due to cold weather in February but that is always a risk you take. A bit of luck, combined with some good judgement, meant that... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

The next four to six weeks will be the most difficult of the year for us as we scour the fields of Devon, England, Southern Europe and even North Africa in an attempt to keep the boxes full, varied and of good quality. When we started the box scheme twelve... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Some of my earliest television memories were sitting down with my family on a Sunday morning and watching the London Marathon. From the comfort of the living room it always seemed such an amazing event to be part of as well as an incredible spectacle. After 25 years of armchair... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

This time of year is tough for all box schemes as we bridge the gap between our remaining crops from last season and the first crops of the new year. But it... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

The warm and dry spell that we have enjoyed over the past week has given us a great window to catch up with sowings on the farm. Parsnips, leeks, peas, beans, onions and garlic are all safely in the ground. The rest of our crops will follow soon when the... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

When you travel to other countries it... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

After a ten year gestation period, our on farm restaurant will have its official opening on 26th May. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall will be cutting the tape. I love his cheerful, celebratory and bold approach to growing, preparing and enjoying food so I am delighted that he will be doing the honours.... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

We love a challenge at River Nene and two weeks of snow and bitterly cold weather at the end of February really poses quite a test. The icy spell holds back the development of some of our really important winter crops like cauliflower and purple sprouting broccoli. I'm afraid it has meant that... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

I never cease to find it amazing to learn more about how our food is grown and to meet the people who dedicate their lives to producing what we eat. Farming and growing is always more than just a job... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

When we set up River Nene, we double and triple checked that we had everything in place to get our veg boxes to your doorstep. What we didn... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

It has been a bit warmer this week so planting has started in earnest with onions, cabbages, potatoes, carrots, and if all goes well, the first of the outdoor lettuce. While the sun remains fairly low in the sky, our south facing fields are much faster to warm than the... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

The temperature outside has jumped ten degrees and the wind has swung back to the South West. We are up to date with the planting and sowing so the return to our good old warm, damp, Devon weather is very welcome. Our leafy crops are much encouraged and are already... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

By the time this newsletter appears in your boxes, we will have had our first farm tour of the season followed by a freshly cooked lunch in our Field Kitchen. We have moved on some distance since we first opened in September last year, apart from some final touches all... continued

Friday 25th April 2014

A fantastic run of dry weather is continuing. We are sowing the first of the carrots this week. They will be covered in fleece, which, if it survives the gales, badgers, deer and my dog, will bring the crop forward and allow us to start pulling bunched carrots in June.... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Cauliflower is a crop that we used to grow for Waitrose and Sainsburys and I like to think that as a co-op we are pretty good at it. We had to be to survive on the prices they paid. It is a crop that requires a fertile soil, plenty of... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

A cold snap has made it harder to fill the boxes with our own produce without the variety suffering. The spring greens, cabbages, kales and purple sprouting broccoli will be there in abundance once we get some of that mild, damp, Devon weather more typical of our winters. Some of... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

The first vegbox for a new box scheme... It... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

The heart of our box scheme is a group of growers who work closely with River Nene Organic Farm. I have known many of them for years and feel very lucky that we are working with some of the best in the country. It makes my job much easier! The expertise... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

As Winter struggles in to Spring things are starting to get busy on the farm. The seeds we ordered in November have arrived and our first sowing of broad beans took place last week. It... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

As I sit at my desk in the dying days of 2004 planning the boxes and cropping for next season I thought I could let you in on how we plan for the vegboxes throughout the year. We plan the planting at this time of year for the boxes to... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Last week we heard that the company who make our boxes had gone into liquidation just at the time when our stock was at it is lowest. It is likely to take up to two months to sort out a new supplier, especially as they had patented the design, which... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

From Christmas onwards we are willing to compromise and start importing some peppers and tomatoes to compliment the hardcore of indigenous winter veg. from our own fields. Unfortunately the flavour of the tomatoes has been so disappointing that we have decided to revert to a more local box for the... continued