Riverford Wicked Leeks

steering our way through the hungry gap months...

After the coldest March on record we hope that there are no more heavy frosts in the pipeline as we head into April. The daffodils are reluctantly making their way into the world but there are no signs of flowers yet! Parsnips, leeks, peas, beans, onions and garlic are all safely in the ground. Stan will plant the rest of the crops on River Nene Organic farm soon when the threat of a late frost has passed (fingers crossed).

Meanwhile we approach a short but challenging time of the year for the box as our own crops are starting to dwindle in supply. The carrots and potatoes should see us through until the end of April, before we have to use imported crops to bridge the hungry gap weeks before the first UK harvest in June. At this time of year you may also find that some of the potatoes and onions sprout unusually quickly as they make a final bid to grow and set seed. They will still taste great but may just need a few extra swipes with the knife or peeler.

For all box schemes and farm shops the level of imports creeps up through April, May and June. During the hungry gap we bolster our own supplies by working with growers in Italy, Spain and as far afield as Argentina for our fruit. Planning our journey through the hungry gap months is challenging - we try to balance up maximising local product with keeping the boxes varied. Some box schemes actually close down for a couple of months when crop on the farm is in short supply; but we think this probably just forces customers back to the supermarkets where the shelves will be full of almost entirely imported produce anyway!

For our imported crops we try to work with the same growers from week to week to build up a good relationship and to make sure we get the best quality crops for the box. In an ideal world we would love to stretch our own crop that little bit further but I'm afraid the seasons just won't allow it.

Rob Haward