“Together with my siblings we are continuing our parent’s innovative approach to farming and an enthusiasm for making great food made from what grows on the farm. I think there is a genuine interest from the public for local produce and this has enabled South Devon to become a fertile ground for food producers.”
Guy Watson – Founder, Riverford Organics
Devon is home to a network of food and drink producers which constitute a major part of the county’s economy. As a predominantly agricultural county, it follows that there is a wealth of quality, locally produced and in many cases, organic suppliers of excellent produce. Devon is proud of its numerous farmers markets, food fairs and increasingly renowned restaurants and cookery schools
One company which has seen its business go from strength to strength is Riverford Organic Farms near Totnes.
Taken over by the Watson family in the 1950s, the farm operated using conventional farming methods until the mid ‘80s. By the end of the ‘80s Guy Watson had converted part of the farm to organic methods (the rest of the farm, run by Guy’s siblings, Oliver and Louise, became organic shortly afterwards) and the Riverford box scheme was born. Starting by delivering organic vegetables locally to 30 friends in Devon, the company now delivers to over 40,000 organic vegetable boxes a week to homes around the UK from its regional farms.
The weekly boxes come with a newsletter explaining both the content of the box and giving farm news from Riverford. It also includes recipes and tips relating to the vegetables that week. The result is a large, yet personal method of shopping with the bulk of customers having been found by word of mouth, and small-scale, local advertising.
Like many of Devon’s businesses Riverford are highly decorated. In 2012 Guy was awarded BBC Farmer of the Year , and in 2013 the company won Best Organic Retailer at the Natural and Organic Awards and Best Retailer at the Observer Awards .