Devon, 10th September, 2002
We used to have a wonderful organic farm shop, Highfield, just around
the corner from us in Topsham, on the Blue Ball road out of town where the fields
stretch down towards the winding river Clyst. But Ian and Lindsay, though
still passionately committed to organics, have decided to pursue other
interests and the farm shop is no more. This is indeed a great shame,
for buying organic vegetables at the source meant not only that they
were good and local and fresh-picked, it also meant that they were no
more expensive than normal vegetables from the greengrocer or supermarket
(where most organic produce is still way too expensive).
however, we've found a more than adequate replacement in Riverford organics.
Riverford Farm is located at Staverton, near Dartington and we used
to drive down to the farm shop from time to time (about 45 minutes from
us), primarily to purchase outstanding organic meats. The family business
in fact is now split between three brothers (I think): one continues
to run the farm shop with organic meats and vegetables; another has
an organic dairy farm; and a third operates the organic vegetable box
It's the latter
which has been supplying us with our weekly supply of vegetables. Each
Tuesday, we look forward to receiving a good size box -- we opt for
the medium, which costs £9.50 -- containing whatever has been
harvested locally either from the Riverford organic farm itself or from
local certified organic farms which collaborate in the scheme.
example, we received a box containing a bag of milva potatoes, bunched
carrots, green onions, spinach, leeks, swede, a bag of lettuce greens
(a sort of Devon mesclum, with mizuma, rocket, lamb's lettuce, cilantro),
some cherry tomatoes, a big bag of basil, some tiny beetroots with greens,
and a couple of red peppers. I think that such a big box of really fresh,
local organic produce for just under a tenner is fantastic value. We
also get each week a couple of litres of Riverford's organic milk (unhomogenized
and really delicious), and a large honey and sunflower loaf that is
just out of this world. Much of the enjoyment comes from the serendipity
of the delivery: never knowing quite what is coming, and the challenge
of utilising vegetables we'd otherwise probably not purchase.
delivery comes with a newsletter page, sometimes talking about the week's
produce, or perhaps highlighting a local grower, or just seasonal news
and chat. There is always a good recipe included. This week, for example,
we were surprised (well actually a little disappointed if I'm honest)
to find a couple of swedes in our box but the newsletter informs (under
the heading 'Back to our roots'): "This week's boxes contain the
first of the season's swedes. The texture and flavour are excellent.
The colour is normally a good indication of quality: those with the
lilac hue are the best. With the cooler evenings, it is time to start
thinking about that favourite casserole or replacing potato with steamed
and mashed swede. For warmer days grated swede makes an interesting
addition to any salad." Now doesn't that make swede, never usually
my favourite vegetable, sound so appetising -- I actually can't wait
to try the first of the season!
trying to expand this service (they offer a franchise scheme that should
allow it eventually to cover much of the country). Right now they cover
a pretty broad area that is expanding all the time: Devon, Cornwall,
Somerset, Dorset, Bristol, Bath, Gloucestershire, Bournemouth, Hampshire,
and parts of West London, Surrey, S. Bucks, and Hertfordshire. They
are apparently coming soon to Southampton, Basingstoke, and Newbury.
If you live
in these areas and are interested, I'd urge you to try them. Have a
look at www.riverford.co.uk
or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
and potato soup
1 medium onion
4 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
the leeks and roughly chop the potatoes and onion. Sautee the vegetables
in hot oil for 10 minutes.
stock and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, cover and
simmer for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
the milk. Transfer to a liquidiser and blend until smooth. Reheat gently
copyright © Riverford Organic Vegetables 2002