Riverford Wicked Leeks

retaining the organic spirit

Inevitably the growth of the organic market has brought with it an influx of commercial companies and farms following the latest customer trends. These businesses have contributed to the professionalism and quality of organic products but some people question whether their purely financial motivation can operate hand in hand with the fundamental organic principles.

The Soil Association organic standards are incredibly comprehensive *(over 150 pages). Their founding principles always support the practical regulations to help businesses understand the thinking behind what they have to do. However, it remains difficult to ensure that all organic farms and businesses embrace the principles that reach beyond the letter of the law.

We have been part of a Soil Association group for the last year looking at a higher level of checks and guidelines, to run alongside the standards, that dig just a little bit deeper. We see them as a real help for us when we are developing new relationships with potential growers and suppliers. The elements that are really important to us are things like wildlife protection, responsible water use, sound fertility management on the farm and treatment of staff.

We tend to find that the growers we have developed a close relationship with feel passionately about all these issues and all of them go to great lengths to run their farms as businesses that are socially, environmentally and, of course, financially positive. As our box numbers grow, so too does our need for new suppliers. We work closely with the Soil Association and potential growers to ensure that wherever the fruit and veg in the box originates it has been produced both to the letter of, and in the spirit of, the organic regulations.

Rob Haward