Riverford Wicked Leeks

sanity & hope

We are the right side of the shortest day, and with the first hint of the evenings drawing out, we start 2014 with some cautious optimism. After five years of falling organic food sales in the UK, 2013 saw a return to modest growth. It was also a much better year for farmers. More broadly, after much campaigning and despite the best efforts of our Environment Secretary, 2013 saw a Europe-wide ban on the neonicotinoid sprays thought to be a contributing factor in bee colony collapse. Similarly, after years of Soil Association campaigning there are signs that we may finally get restrictions on the insane overuse of antibiotics in agriculture, which is fuelling antibiotic resistance. Meanwhile and despite our Environment Secretary branding anyone questioning the benefits of GM “wicked”, Europe continues to obstruct Monsanto and the ‘big four’ GM multinationals in their bid to control world agriculture and food supply.

It is true that a few organic farmers reverted to conventional farming when faced with a less favourable market, and gone are many of the ideologically-driven incompetent and the market-chasing opportunists. Those who remain are highly skilled, experienced growers, normally with a degree of pragmatism but also an undying desire to produce great, healthy food while genuinely caring for their soil, livestock and wildlife. Our growers count among them and that they are still with us is testimony to the strength of long relationships and your loyalty.

Overall I stand here at the start of 2014 with renewed determination that we must stick to our guns. Organic farming is what we believe in and are good at. We don’t think it is perfect, but it’s the best show in town in terms of sustainable and trustworthy food production. 26 years on we are still enjoying the challenges and learning, and away from the fields we are excited by the possibilities of using technology to bring our fields closer to you. We need to get better at IT to make your lives and ours easier, but with vegbox exclusions, fish boxes and recipe boxes within reach, we hope to soon have even more to keep you enjoying, exploring and sharing good food through 2014 and beyond.

Guy Watson