Riverford Wicked Leeks

oranges + lemons

Most citrus fruit ripens in the winter, requiring cold nights to develop skin colour and flavour, so through the summer our oranges come from the Southern Hemisphere. Oranges maintain an appearance of freshness in cold store for months, but by the time the fruit has been picked, graded and shipped it has been off the tree for too long and the flavour is often disappointing. Assuming the journey to the port is short, the cost in CO2 is only slightly higher than for fruit trucked from Spain, but on account of flavour we try to use as little as possible during the summer months.

November is the start of the Northern Hemisphere citrus season and from now until May most of our oranges, lemons, clementines and satsumas will come from a small group of farmers working in the hills behind Almeria. The group is headed up by Gines Garcia who, like us, is intensely proud of his farm, the biodiversity it supports and the produce he sells. He has become a beacon for other local farmers who have converted to organic and has joined forces to market their produce. We like Gines and we like doing business with him. I particularly like that he has offered an open invitation to any of you to visit his farm; so if you are visiting Andalucia and would like to pluck your own lime or orange from the tree, call or email us and we will put you in touch. Like Paco from Motril who grows tomatoes, peppers, beans and avocados for the boxes during winter, Gines graduated in philosophy rather than agriculture; what is it about organic farming? This might be cause for concern were it not for his farming ancestry and the well grounded skills that allow him to combine intellectual profundity with practical success.

The fruit is already good but Gines is confident it will get better. When it is at its best and he has plenty we will offer you some jumbo bags of oranges. He has really taken on board our determination to sell only the best flavoured fruit and to get it from the tree to your doorstep as quickly as possible. The current orange variety is Navelina. In January we will move onto Navel, then Navel late in March, before finishing the season with Valencia, the sweetest and juiciest of all. And, for the marmalade-makers amongst you we will have Seville oranges for about six weeks from mid January.

Guy Watson from Riverford in Devon