Every week for more than 25 years, organic farmer, entrepreneur and vegetable enthusiast, Guy Singh-Watson, has distilled his ruminations on ethical food, farming and business into a missive to Riverford’s veg box customers throughout the UK.
In a new book, Vegetables, Soil and Hope, a selection of these newsletters, brought to life with witty illustrations, chronicle a quarter century of the highs and lows of farming organically and growing an ethical business.
To help publicise the book to a wider public, Riverford turned to Cicada and we’ve been busy this month liaising with key regional media and arranging a desk drop of the book. Cicada works closely with Home Farm at Newby Wiske, near Northallerton, one of four Riverford farms which together produce and deliver the company’s iconic veg boxes to more than 50,000 homes each week.
By turns challenging and lyrical, the short pieces in Guy’s book challenge the food on your plate, help you empathise with those who produce it, and celebrate our expanding vegetable world, with Guy’s loves embracing artichokes and bitter leaves, cardoons and tomatillos, as well as the humbler roots and greens of our traditional national diet.
Guy explained, “This book was mostly written in the fields in my head while working. By the time I get my boots off it is relatively easy to organise my thoughts into weekly newsletters. My world is vegetables, soil, farming and cooking; I try to stick to what I know best, but often my frustration with conventional business and its abuse and denigration of humanity and the environment spills onto the page.
“If any of its contents leads anyone to reconsider the nature of good farming or business, I will be happy. There are too many save-the-world books and most of them are too long. This one is short, and I hope, easy to ready.”
Illustrations by Guardian Weekend magazine artists, Berger and Wyse, bring wit, colour and inventiveness to the a5 paperback book.
Topics range from unscrupulous agricultural chemical giants, overproduction and overconsumption of meat, and the unethical business practices of supermarkets, to more positive and enlightening pieces about the preciousness of soil and Riverford’s move to employee ownership.
The book is available to buy at www.riverford.co.uk