riverford 2012: more than veg

I hope you are well-fed, well-rested and full of resolve to eat well and save the world in 2012. As well as all that, my resolution is not to be such a miserable bugger and be more upbeat about the farm, the business, all things organic and the world in general. This is, in part, inspired by the very appreciative and very much appreciated e-mails received from many of you in the weeks before Christmas. It really helps to feel that we are in this together. The last three years have been very difficult and there is no sign of a let-up, but we are so lucky to be in a position where we can make a difference, where we are largely autonomous, debt-free and supported in our endeavours by our customers.

One of our aims this year is to convince you that as a family and a farm we are about more than vegetables. My brother Ben is a restlessly creative obsessive in the kitchen, and it all started when, having decided against becoming a lawyer, he set about turning my father’s pigs into bacon, sausages and pies. Over 30 years this led to three farm shops and our meatbox scheme. He then moved onto baking, smoking and preserving, so unlike many farm shops he actually makes most of what he sells. This Christmas, Ben and his team made 150,000 mince pies which were generally hailed to be among the best in the land. Many of Ben’s best creations such as his chutneys and pâtés are available to add to your vegbox orders, and while we’re never quite sure where his creativity will lead us, I’ve no doubt 2012 will bring you more innovations. 

I do have one small apology to kick off the year. If you can remember back that far, it was relentlessly wet in late summer last year, just when our onions and shallots were supposed to be drying. Without recourse to fungicides, we’re now having problems with rots in the onions as a result (and slug holes in the swedes as well). We are grading hard and trying to pick out the bad ones, but inevitably some will get through. There are few things worse than a smelly onion, so if you feel you’ve been short-changed, please let us know and we’ll replace, refund or make some other attempt to win back favour.  
Guy Watson