News - 2009

Monday 10th May 2010

Extreme weather and Riverford deliveries: an update Ice and snow are causing problems on the roads, but we are getting through. We may be late (even very late) but we... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Deliveries in the Maidstone and Hemel Hempstead areas will be made on Saturday as we are struggling to get our veg van through the snow and congestion. Sorry! If you are concerned about your delivery please call your local vegman or our customer services team on 0845 600 2311 or 01803... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Monday 10th May 2010

Hurrah, the shortest day is past. Combined with some bright and dry weather, I feel better already. This will be our busiest week of the year as the nation prepares to feast on some good wholesome, and for once, largely seasonal, food. Jane and Kirsty have put together lots of... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

If you find Brussels sprouts a challenge in the kitchen and at the table - try growing them. They are one of the most heavily sprayed horticultural crops when grown conventionally, and one of the most challenging to grow reliably, organically; so challenging in fact that we have given up... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

As the days turn colder, thoughts turn to warming stews and casseroles full of comforting root veg. One root you... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

I am not a big fan of Bill Gates; I still think the world would be a better place without the domination of Microsoft. Charity is better than nothing, but businesses have far more opportunity to shape a better world through how they do their business than they do through... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

It was too good to last. The shorts have gone, the wellies are on and the farm drying room is full of damp steaming waterproofs. After a gloriously settled September and October we are back to our more familiar cyclonic pattern with a succession of gales rushing in off the... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

on Friday 13th November between 2am-8am we'll be working on the website. We'll be up and running again in the morning.... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

With the recent warm dry weather, our squash are developing good hard skins to store well over the coming months. Squash and pumpkins are part of the Cucurbitaceae family, along with courgettes and marrows, but are distinguished by the fact that their fruits are harvested mature and can last very... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

This is being tapped out from our Vend... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

As you may have guessed, I am a vegetable bore. Twenty five years ago when I sowed my first leek I was fairly well adjusted but now my wife reckons I can turn any conversation to growing, cooking or eating veg within seconds. The box scheme was founded on the... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

We are back to our Devon drizzle and there is a side of me that is almost pleased. Some of our crops certainly needed the rain and we can finally pack away all those pumps and sprinklers for the year, secure in the knowledge that nothing will be thirsty for... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Believe it or not, it... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

An ideal autumn continues, with the bright dry weather ripening the sweetcorn to perfection and helping the squash develop their full sweetness and the good hard skins that will help them store. The main crop potatoes are all in the barn, having been harvested in near perfect conditions. Many are... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Autumn newsletters seldom escape some reference to mists and mellow fruitfulness. In two hundred years no one has evoked a grower... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Autumn newsletters seldom escape some reference to mists and mellow fruitfulness. In two hundred years no one has evoked a grower... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

The current spell of bright, sunny weather means now is the ideal time to enjoy corn at its ripe, sweet best. Corn bears its cobs at the perfect picking height, so its arrival is a welcome relief after a summer bent double harvesting lettuces and courgettes. Our field workers judge... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

An ideal autumn continues, with the bright dry weather ripening the sweetcorn to perfection and helping the squash develop their full sweetness and the good hard skins that will help them store. The main crop potatoes are all in the barn, having been harvested in near perfect conditions. Many are bigger... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

As I mentioned last week, a combination of rain, pessimistic crop planning (based on the previous two disastrous growing years) and slightly disappointing sales has me a bit worried that there is more in the fields than will fit in your boxes through autumn. There is nothing more upsetting for... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Zoe Williams... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

It is hard to believe that back in June crops were parched and failing in the fields. In the west at least, July and August may not have been great for camping, but our veg liked all that dampness. Thankfully, there was not quite enough rain to leach the soil... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

In January we introduced our best-ever value vegbox: the Roots + Greens. The idea behind it was to offer an exceptionally good value box that made the most of seasonal homegrown produce... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Environmentally, there is no such thing as good packaging; only some that is less bad. Recycling can help but is a poor substitute for reuse or, even better, not using the stuff in the first place. So why do we use any at all? Some leafy veg, like spinach and... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Contrary to most of the press coverage, the Food Standards Agency report published last week did not prove that organic food was no better for you than non-organic. It merely showed that there was no conclusive evidence either way, on the grounds of a limited review of existing research into... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Tomatoes have become a staple part of the British diet; sliced into sandwiches, chopped into salads, squeezed as ketchup over anything and everything. Yet the British outdoor season only lasts about five minutes at the end of September. Growing them under heated glass is environmentally insane and we have discovered... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Yesterday, as an end of term treat, I persuaded (bribed) my sons and a tribe of their recently broken up mates to weed my artichokes. As the rain came down it was not long before the first covert, chickweed-bound mud ball flew, followed by all out war. Whilst they celebrated... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

On Monday 6th July we were named the National Example of Excellence in Business in the Community... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

All growers love planting courgettes. They are easy to grow and produce a reliable supply all through summer. We have tried all sorts of varieties, including yellow courgettes and summer squashes in different shapes and colours, but found most to be watery and tasteless. So it... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

It may be July, but it doesn... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Prince Charles gave me a small oak tree last night at St James... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

According to our customer survey, a staggering 43% of you are growing some of your own vegetables. The potatoes may succumb to blight, gooseberries be defoliated by sawfly and lettuces devoured by slugs, but that is not the point. However gnarled, nibbled and diminutive those vegetables, in their naked simplicity... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

What a wonderful time it is for the discerning cook and grower. It fills me with joy to watch a stream of tractors drawing into the box barn from our fields, laden with dewy fresh beans, carrots, asparagus, spinach, potatoes, lettuce, cabbage and salad leaves. We are also now onto... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Monday 10th May 2010

Half the staff are lost in the broad beans, picking with deft, nimble and (I hope) well motivated fingers, moving systematically up the rows like marshalled locusts. A bean top rustles now and then and occasionally a head pops up to carry out a completed crate, but otherwise they could... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Over the years we have hosted harvest lunches for locals at the farm; a chance to get to know those you have nodded to while passing in the lane or quietly cursed for not backing up, or known for years but never found the time to catch up with. I... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Monday 10th May 2010

Now is an exciting time at Home Farm. There is so much homegrown veg around that we have a lot to keep on top of. Next week we... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Riverford is helping Send a Cow with this lovely garden, demonstrating the work they do training and supporting sustainable growing methods in Africa. If you are at the show, please come and say hello. Riverford and Send a Cow both share the belief that positive farming practices can have an enormous... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

If you just want a vegbox and find my pontifications on matters beyond the field a bit much, I suggest you skip this newsletter. My mind has wandered beyond the farm gate, stimulated by the contrasting pleasures of The Apprentice and Michael Sandel... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

It is always exciting as we pull back the covers to reveal the first spring crops in their fresh, succulent glory. Peeking around the edges can be deceptive; one year we uncovered a field of cabbage to find a Friar Tuck-style fringe but a bald centre with nothing but stumps... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Just as we were starting to worry that it would never rain again, one week later we are left wondering if it will ever stop. One day it... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

It sounds like the latest alternative health practice to emerge from new age South Devon, but is actually a preemptive strike against greens fatigue. Just a few weeks ago, the most common comment/complaint we were getting was carbohydrate overload; a kitchen full of roots as we approached the end of... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

The myth that supermarkets are the cheapest places to shop is extraordinarily persistent. To most of our customers ethical trading, the environment and, above all, flavour seem to be at least as important as price. But we all need reassurance that our principles are not bleeding us dry. Every month... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Monday 10th May 2010

The farm is managed by Peter and Philip Le Maistre along with their father Charles Le Maistre and consists of around 900 vergees (2... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Monday 10th May 2010

We had the driest and sunniest March I can remember. In so many springs we get behind and are forced to plant before the soil has dried enough to make a good seed bed.This year has been perfect, with new plants rapidly rooting out into fine, well aerated soil. The farm... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

For those of you new to the box scheme and my annual laments, we are now entering the... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

We seem to be doing pretty well with awards recently. First the Observer... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Our unsung hero of the vegetable world this month is spring greens. Springtime in the UK brings surprisingly few homegrown vegetables; we often describe the period as the... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

After a quiet couple of months on the farm, things are really starting to get going now, with crops like leeks and parsnips still to harvest as well as planting to get done. It takes a fair bit of organising to make it all happen. The first carrots are just... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Back before Christmas many of you filled in our survey about life with our vegboxes. We followed this up with some customer suppers in customers... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

The potato saga continues. Slowly but surely last year... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

I am told this is a bit of a rant, but it is something I really feel strongly about... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

March will see our first plantings of a wide variety of lettuces. The earliest variety we grow is Little Gem which we cut and bag in the field as twin packs around mid May. This early variety is followed by Oak Leaf and green and red Batavia through the summer... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Riverford or River Swale? It is 16 years since I packed my first vegboxes in a cow shed at Riverford in Devon and delivered them locally in a beaten up Transit, in a bid for freedom from the clutches of supermarkets and wholesalers. Ten years later the Devon farm seemed to... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Having blown the Jerusalem artichoke trumpet (in more ways than one) last month, it... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Last week our Field Kitchen restaurant in Devon was named the Observer Food Monthly... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

The farm has been bathed in almost continuous sunshine for two weeks, giving us a wonderful start to the new season. The cows are out, the spreaders are flinging muck, and lettuce, cabbage, onions, carrots and potatoes are being planted into perfect, rapidly warming seedbeds. The last of the cabbages,... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Each month we compare our range of boxes against online prices for equivalent organic produce from 3 leading supermarkets. So far, our produce has always come out significantly cheaper (and this does not take into account our free delivery). Best value boxes in March were: Roots and Greens @ 46% cheaper Winter @... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

The good thing about leaving behind one of the coldest winters for over a decade is that it puts your faith back into the seasons and all that comes with them. The cold frosts have worked wonders for the soil; killing off bugs and parasites as well as breaking down... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

As we enter Fairtrade Fortnight (23 February... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Despite the very bleak, positively arctic January and February we... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Monday 10th May 2010

Well, if that... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Years of growing vegetables for supermarkets in the UK taught me that the free market can be a harsh place for small producers. Distant producers are even more vulnerable. So is Fairtrade certification the answer? Can ethics be measured, certified and delivered via a free market to customers 3000 miles... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

As our Chancellor tries, with increasing desperation, to jolt us into renewed spending there is a growing revolt against playing our ant-like parts as consumers in keeping the machine rolling. We have woken up; the hypnotic spell of manic greed and envy, followed by dizzy credit-fuelled consumption has been broken.... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

After the very bleak, positively arctic January and February we... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Many farmers have a pocket-draining enthusiasm for one particular crop or animal. For me it is globe artichokes, for my father John and his father before him, it was an unreasoned affection for pigs. For two generations they struggled to find an ethical but profitable approach to these intelligent animals.... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

How great to see the sun. I had almost forgotten what it looked and felt like. It has been a long, cold and grey winter and we have been short of homegrown green veg for too long as our crops refused to grow. Two mild weeks and hope springs eternal,... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Monday 10th May 2010

For the most part we grow what we think you would like to eat, but after two disastrous growing years we are having to take a closer look at what makes the cash and what loses it. There can be no denying the bean counters... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Riverford Organic Vegetables Recipe Competition Terms and Conditions Regional finalists will receive an invitation to Riverford Organic Vegetables, a guided tour of the farm and lunch in the Riverford Field Kitchen on Friday 6th March 2009. In addition they will receive a signed copy of the Riverford Farm Cookbook, and see... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Every day brings new challenges at the farm. We keep in touch with our local growers to check first of all that they can supply the veg for this week... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

The biting cold of December and the first week of January are a stark contrast to the mild winters we... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

I hope you enjoyed the feasting season and dispatched the last remnants of turkey without too much trauma. Time now for me to stop humming... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

River Swale Organic Vegetables Recipe Competition Terms and Conditions Regional finalists will receive an invitation to Riverford Organic Vegetables, a guided tour of the farm and lunch in the Riverford Field Kitchen on Friday 6th March 2009. In addition they will receive a signed copy of the Riverford Farm Cookbook, and... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Now is a peaceful time at the farm (My Cat thinks so too; I... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

There... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Having blown the brussels sprout trumpet last month, it... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

River Nene Organic Vegetables Recipe Competition Terms and Conditions Regional finalists will receive an invitation to Riverford Organic Vegetables, a guided tour of the farm and lunch in the Riverford Field Kitchen on Friday 6th March 2009. In addition they will receive a signed copy of the Riverford Farm Cookbook, and... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

Monday 10th May 2010

The biting cold of December and the first week of January are a stark contrast to the mild winters we... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

2009 has started as 2008 ended; dry and bitterly cold. Not that we are complaining; it takes a while in the morning to get some of the older vehicles and younger staff going, but most pickers would choose cold and dry over warm and wet, provided the task at hand... continued

Monday 10th May 2010

It always surprises me how quickly January passes on the farm. It seems like only yesterday that we were all immersed in harvesting the Christmas veg. Since then the enduring chill has brought the fields to a near standstill and we are struggling to keep enough greens (which need harvesting... continued