When, in the 1990s, Guy Singh-Watson started delivering boxes of organic veg to neighbours and friends, he realised he was onto a winner. People loved the fact that the vegetables tasted great and were grown locally.
He probably didn’t realise just how big a winner it was. Today Riverford Organic Farmers supply boxes to between 50 and 60 thousand households a week and have a team of 700.
I was very excited to get to speak with Guy since I’ve read a number of his blogs about the impact of modern farming and monoculture. Guy really brings to life the impact such approaches of mass production are having on the soil, and how important soil is for all of us to be able to continue to live on planet earth. Fundamentally I wanted to learn whether ‘organic’ is really important and how much work should we, as the hospitality industry and the general public, be putting in to thinking about not only where, but how our fruits and vegetables are grown. To say Guy has an opinion or two on this is an understatement. But he makes the case eloquently and enthusiastically for change.
While the business has scaled up, the guiding principle behind it has not shifted, as you’ll know if you’ve ever watched Guy’s YouTube series, ‘Guy’s Rants’. For him, respecting the health of our soil, through traditional mixed farming rather than rigid specialisation, is vital for the health of us all.
Whether you agree with Guy or not, this programme will definitely make you think about consumer choice, and whether the world has gone mad in allowing us to choose delivery times to within 20 minutes or having little gem lettuces flown over from the States.
Should the era of getting what we want, when we want it, come to an end?