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Happy 10th Birthday, Home Farm!

This summer marks ten years since Riverford first arrived at its home in the north, Home Farm. Since then, so much has changed – and we couldn’t have done any of it without our customers’ support. Thank you, everyone, for being part of the family!

Our new beers and ciders and their stories.

We’ve introduced four new beers and ciders to our drink offering, carefully selected for flavour from independent breweries. As with most of the small-scale producers we work with, they have interesting stories to tell. Here’s a little about what makes each brewery and beverage special.

The first addition is from Barnaby’s Brewery, made quite literally a stone’s throw away from us at the Riverford dairy farm in the old stable block. Their Pilsner lager is made with fresh spring water from the farm, which allows its delicate malt flavour shine through; you’ll struggle to find another brewery using spring water from an organic farm!

Team Barnaby and Tim set up the business after brewing as a hobby for years. What really helped Barnaby take the plunge was realising that with three teenage sons quickly growing up, his household was soon going to get through a lot of beer!

Tim’s engineering experience has allowed them to build their bespoke brewhouse using innovatively adapted reclaimed equipment.

What’s really impressive about Barnaby’s Brewhouse is their integrity in their efforts to make sure every by-product is put to use. Their spent grain is fed to the Riverford dairy herd; waste water is filtered in hand-built reed beds then fed back onto the land; the yeast slurry is either harvested and used for future brews or fed to pigs and the used hops are composted. On top of that the business is moving towards becoming completely sustainable business and already uses renewable energy from solar panels on the farm.

Ultimately, this is a lager you can really feel good about drinking.

Next up is Black Isle Brewery in the Scottish Highlands, the only organic brewery in Scotland. Based on a working farm, they grow their own barley for brewing and breed Hebridean sheep who feed off the spent grain.

Their Goldeneye pale ale has a beautiful golden colour, with a fruity aroma and rich, robust malt and marmalade flavour. We recommend it with anything spicy, smoked or BBQ’d.

David Gladwin was one of the very first craft brewers in Scotland when he started Black Isle in 1998. He saw a gap in the market for modern, fresh styles of beer to oppose the mass produced, pasteurised and ‘bland’ offerings in Scotland.

Organic is important to Black Isle; it costs three times as much for organic hops as it does for non-organic materials, but like us they are committed to organic and producing the best quality beer while looking after their beautiful Highland environment. They are also members of WWOOF (Working Worldwide On Organic Farms) if you fancy volunteering on the farm!

Our third addition is Blonde lager by Hepworth Brewery, Sussex. Clear golden in colour, the flavour is smooth, crisp and refreshing, with some lovely floral notes from the organic hops.

It’s naturally gluten free, too! This is achieved by using the best brewing practices at every stage: from choosing Sussex barley that is low in protein, to traditional floor malting and boiling the worts (the liquid extracted from the mashing process during brewing) at higher temperatures in the British-style brewhouse. Slow, cold maturation allows the beer to stabilise and the gluten to drop out, before filtering and bottling.

Lastly is a new addition from the Samuel Smith’s brewery, Perry, a sparkling pear cider.

Samuel Smith’s is brewed at the literally named Old Brewery, Tadcaster, is the oldest brewery in Yorkshire. Since 1758, ales and stouts have been brewed here using the highly mineralised water drawn from an aquifer, 85 feet below ground.

Perry has a delicate pale straw colour, smooth body, and lovely flavour – crisp yet rich, and bursting with fragrant summer pears.

All four drinks have been made by real people who really love what they do, and with a commitment to organic. As with everything we grow and sell, flavour is at the top of our list when choosing new products from small scale producers and these all get top marks. Cheers to that!

Recipe boxes by Riverford restaurant chefs

For two weeks from Monday 26th June, our Vegetarian recipe box will be taken over by James Dodd and Peter Weeden, the kings of the kitchen at our two award-winning organic restaurants.

Nestled the middle of our Devon farm is The Riverford Field Kitchen, lead by head chef and serious veg nerd James. He even has a tattoo of all his favourite vegetables! James’s cooking is a joyful celebration of what’s fresh on the farm, with a global influence from his round the world travels. Expect colour, creativity, and bags of flavour.

Eating at The Riverford Field Kitchen is a unique experience – not just in terms of the food, but also how it’s eaten. We believe that good food tastes better shared, so the whole restaurant is served together at communal tables, with generous platters to pass around and share. There’s always lots of dishes to dig into; James and his team magic up unforgettable seasonal feasts, showcasing the bounty from the fields around.

Far from the rolling Devon hills, in the heart of urban Islington, is Riverford at the Duke of Cambridge: Britain’s first and only certified organic pub. It’s here that head chef Peter gets to work, delivering pub grub like you’ve never seen it before.

Peter believes in ‘good, clean and fair’ food, sourcing organic ingredients with impeccable provenance, and cooking simple, rustic dishes which let their natural flavours shine. Seasonal veg is the star of every plate, of course – much of it from our own farm. He is also passionate about underutilised fish, and works with colleges to promote sustainable seafood.

Peter and James have created these limited edition vegetarian recipes to give you a taste of our restaurants’ inspiring organic food at your own table. Each chef’s recipes will be available for one week only, starting with James from Monday 26th June – so try them while you can.

Visit our recipe box page to order a Vegetarian recipe box with recipes by Riverford restaurant chefs, delivered Monday 26th June – Friday 7th July.

 

Riverford Growers Day – putting names to faces (or fruit and veg!)

Last week, over 80 organic growers and producers descended on the Devon farm. People came from all over the world, including all our Spanish growers – such as Pepe who grows our first spring asparagus, and Paco who supplies tomatoes and ramiro peppers outside the UK season.

Our overseas farmers brought the beautiful sunshine with them; just right for food and chat outside The Riverford Field Kitchen, a farm tour, and some interesting talks in the Riverford Yurt.

Choosing who we work with carefully is very important to us. We’re lucky enough to have a fantastic network of growers who share our passion for growing flavoursome organic food, with utmost respect for the environment.

These relationships are especially important to us when working with growers overseas, because organic standards aren’t always as strict as they are in the UK. Working with farmers we know and trust means we can provide our customers with the assurance that their food has always been grown with integrity, and is fully traceable from field to plate.

Here are a few snaps from the day.

Another visit from The Happy Pear


Last time we teamed up with Irish chef duo The Happy Pear, their joyful, nourishing cookery went down a storm with our recipe box customers. Now we’re thrilled to be working with the boys again for some new limited edition vegetarian recipe boxes, delivered from 8th May.

The Happy Pear, identical twins David and Stephen Flynn, are chefs who run a natural food shop, wholefood café and restaurant, superfood sprout farm and online shop, as well as giving health education talks – all to ‘inspire a healthier, happier world’. A quick look at their cookbooks (both bestsellers in Ireland) shows their infectious passion for vibrant, veg-packed cooking is a brilliant match with our own approach to food.

A bit more background on dynamic duo: after studying business at university, David and Stephen travelled the world, tasting many local dishes and unusual ingredients along the way. When they returned to Ireland, their aims were to start a food revolution by making fruit and veg exciting, to get involved with their community, and to drag as many people along for the ride as possible.
Today, The Happy Pear is a community itself, all about making natural, nutritious food mainstream, and creating really good products that make it easier for people to be healthier and happier. They have a huge following on social media; every week they release videos on their YouTube channel, and they’re also part of Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube, the largest foodie community in Europe.

David and Stephen live with their families in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland. They really ‘walk their talk’ by eating a wholefood and plant-based diet, practicing yoga, swimming in the sea, keeping bees, and smiling every day.

When the boys came to see us on the farm in Devon, they were a pleasure to have along – just as full of energy and warm enthusiasm in person as they are in their videos. Riverford founder Guy Watson gave them a tour, where they harvested leeks and tasted their way through the green leaves in our polytunnels, before heading to our development kitchen for a bit of cooking and a photoshoot. Here’s what they had to say:

“We’re delighted to be working with Riverford; their food culture and the way they work so close to the land and the people who farm it is inspirational. One of our missions is to get people to eat more veg, and this is very much central to what Riverford do, so it’s a beautiful marriage of goals. Our recipes plus Riverford veg – what could be better?”

We couldn’t agree more.

Limited edition Happy Pear recipe boxes, with everything you need to make three colourful, flavour-packed vegetarian meals for two people. Pre-order now for deliveries from 8th May.

WastED pop-up restaurant – Riverford meets New York

Last year we received a very exciting email asking if we’d like to be involved with a pop-up restaurant at Selfridges. It would be hosted by the illustrious Blue Hill Farm Restaurant, based in New York. Dan Barber, the head chef at Blue Hill, is something of an inspiration to our cooks at Riverford. Their ethos is similar to our own, with a focus on sustainable and local food from producers who respect artisanal techniques. The most exciting bit? The menu would use produce that would normally be considered waste; we’re not talking wonky veg, but by-products of the food industry that are never used.

After a little brainstorming, it was decided that Riverford would provide whole kale trees (the stalks with a few leaves on that are left at the end of the season), cabbage re-growth (leaves that re-appear once the cabbage has been harvested), and very undersized cabbages (ones that are too small to pick).


The pop-up opened its doors on Selfridges’ rooftop terrace on February 24th. Immediate feedback from the chefs told us the kale trees were going down a storm and were a visual sensation. They serve them whole on a spike on a wooden board, alongside scissors to cut the leaves yourself and a creamy, smoky dip.

A couple of us were lucky enough to go along. We entered through a dark corridor with black and white food and farming videos playing, and Jonny Cash’s Walk the Line on the playlist. Immediately, it was clear that the waste theme went further than just the food: there were lampshades made from dried mushrooms, tables from compressed artichoke fibres, and menus on recycled paper.

Each dish was presented to us with a story: how it’s made and where the produce comes from. Everything we ate and drank was innovative, wonderfully delicious and so inspiring. In a world where we waste a huge amount and many go without, projects like this are a fantastic way to fuel the food waste movement and keep the conversation alive.

To find out more, visited the WastED London website.

10-a-day? No problem!

Recent scientific research suggests we should be eating 10 portions of fruit and vegetables a day to help live a longer life. To many people that may sound like a lot, but we don’t think so.

With 30 years’ experience growing organically, we really know our veg. We choose crops for flavour, rather than cosmetic perfection or high yield; for the carrotiest carrots, and potatoes like your grandad used to grow. Our boxes are all about bringing the best from the fields into customers’ homes. They are an inspiring way to cook from scratch, eat seasonally, and pack a load of goodness into your diet.

Founder and farmer Guy Watson believes squeezing 10 portions of fruit and veg into your daily diet is entirely possible. “It is easy to add 2 or 3 vegetables into every meal. From beetroot gratins to chard galettes, leeks on toast to every-veg curry, it really is so easy to make vegetables the star of every dish.”

Need some help getting to grips with the green stuff? You can access our veg nerds’ best tips and bright ideas for free on our recipe app, online recipe hub, YouTube channel – or even come along to one of our veg box cookery classes, happening across the country.

Shop organic fruit and veg

What’s new?

No matter how exciting a new product is, to make it onto our shelves, wowing in taste tests is only the first hurdle. We must be just as confident in the ethics of anything we sell as we are in the flavour.

Here are the inspiring stories behind the newest treats in our online farm shop.

Cornish sea salad

harvesting seaweed

Often the best ideas are hiding right under our noses. So it was for Caro Warwick-Evans and Tim van Berkel, two ocean-loving surfers and the founders of the Cornish Seaweed Company.

Renewable energy graduate Caro was listening to a Radio 4 programme about the Irish seaweed industry when she had her ‘eureka!’ moment. Cornwall’s waters are bursting with richly nutritious seaweed; why wasn’t it being used?

Old friend & conservationist Tim soon got on board with the idea, but making it happen turned out to be far from easy. England had no seaweed industry to speak of, so they had no precedent to follow through the complex laws and regulations surrounding our coastline. Eventually, they were granted license to harvest from a 5-mile stretch of the Lizard coast by the Crown Estate.

SuCornish sea saladstainability is a founding principle of the Cornish Seaweed Company. They worked with Natural England to create a national code of conduct for sustainable seaweeding, always harvest by hand, and dry the seaweed using sun and wind energy. They are certified organic by the Soil Association.

Shop Cornish sea salad

Shade-grown coffee

harvesting coffee

In its wild form, coffee is a shrub that grows in the forest shade, protected from the sun by a canopy of trees. However, to produce greater yields, a new breed of sun-tolerant coffee plants was created in the 1970s. Swathes of rainforest have now been cleared for sun-grown coffee plantations, destroying habitats, leaching the soil of nutrients, and polluting the ecosystem with chemical nasties.

Our new ground coffee is organically shade grown. The shade trees not only provide protection from the sun, but also drop leaves which turn to mulch, keeping the soil naturally moist and fertile. Local wildlife is free to thrive around the crops – especially birds, who repay the favour by taking on pest control duty and eating insects off the plants.

This coffee is better for people too. The beans are grown by Manos Campesinas, a cooperative of small-scale organic coffee farmers in the remote highlands of Guatemala. Organic ground coffeeManos Campesinas helps its members access the market and receive fair payment, as well as supporting them to plan and grow their businesses. The cooperative’s innovative work includes farmer-to-farmer training in advanced organic methods, and leadership programmes for women. Watch supplier Equal Exchange’s video about women in coffee.

Shop organic ground coffee

Pure peanut butter

harvesting peanuts

Another treat from pioneering fair trade supplier Equal Exchange, this thick, flavoursome peanut butter is made with 100% organic peanuts and nothing else. No salt, no sugar, no palm oil, no lecithin stabilisers – just the best organic peanuts, roasted without blanching to preserve all their natural goodness.

The peanuts are grown by the Yishui Xingye Groundnut Professional Association, a group of 58 small-scale organic farmers in the Shandong province of China. Each farmer leases a few small plots to grow their crop, leaving as much of the area wooded as possible to encourage plants and wildlife. They have been farming organically since 1996, and process the nuts in their organic-only processing factory.

In 2009 the Association was certified Fairtrade. The farmers have decided jointly how to spend the additional income. A successful idea must fulfil the 3 points organic peanut butterpinned up in their training centre: serving a basic need, improving the situation of all the farmers, and possessing a long-term benefit. So far they have chosen to improve roads in the area, buy books and clothes for schoolchildren, and invest in better seeds, tools and irrigation.

Shop organic peanut butter

To find out more, visit www.cornishseaweed.co.uk and www.equalexchange.co.uk

Hens on the veg


Because of the current avian flu threat, our chickens (like all UK poultry) must be kept indoors until spring, to make sure they don’t have any contact with wild birds that might carry the infection.

The sheds are safe and comfortable, but our birds are used to roaming on open green pasture all day; understandably, they can get a bit bored. We’ve done all sorts to keep them entertained – even giving them some footballs to play with! But the thing they seem to enjoy the most is lots of tasty grade-out produce to graze on.

Watch our video below to see our hens living life on the veg.

Order organic eggs and chicken in our online farm shop.

Iceberg lettuce shortage? Kale Caesar!

Guy-Watson-and-his-favourite-cabbage-the-January-King

As supermarkets ration veg because of bad weather in Spain and Italy, is the shortage of iceberg lettuce the big deal many are making it out to be?

Riverford founder, and organic veg box pioneer, Guy Watson thinks not. ‘We need to relearn the potential of great British veg, and embrace seasonal British winter crops instead of relying on imports. Right now our fields are brimming with wonderful cabbages, leeks, kale, swede and flavourful greenery that have much more to offer than imported courgettes or watery iceberg lettuce.’

He continues, ‘A lack of lettuce isn’t a big deal. One of our most popular winter dishes in the Riverford Field Kitchen restaurant is our Kale Caesar Salad; it is always a hit with diners, who are rarely aware that kale can be a far superior substitute for bland salad leaves. It’s also really easy to make a vibrant winter slaw using beetroot, carrot, red cabbage and swede – all in season and growing in British fields right now.’

As farmers ourselves, we know how devastating bad weather can be for a crop, and have a commitment to support our growers, and minimise waste by having much more generous specifications than the supermarkets.

‘In my experience, when I was growing for supermarkets, up to a half of all veg was often left in the field due to unnecessarily tight cosmetic specifications. We don’t believe in such needless waste so for example, we’re currently including undersized broccoli heads in our veg boxes, but just giving more of them. Because we grow, source, pack and deliver our veg ourselves, we have the flexibility to widen our specifications.’

With 30 years of veg growing experience behind us, we really know how to make great British veg sing. Our recipe hub is packed with recipes to help bring British veg to life, such as Kale, Chorizo and Potato Hash, Moroccan Cauliflower Salad with Chickpeas and Hazelnuts, and Kale, Fruit and Nut Pilaf.

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