Riverford Farm at Buckfastleigh, Devon, was taken over by the Watson family, in the 1950s. Guy Watson-Singh (born 1960) studied Agricultural and Forestry Science at the University of Oxford and became a management consultant. He returned to Riverford Farm in 1986, with the intention of converting it to organic farming.
Guy Watson-Singh achieved this aim in the 1990s and started the Riverford organic operation we know now, by delivering organic produce to friends and family, in a wheelbarrow.
He came up with the idea of a veg box delivery scheme. Customers would get information on the veg and fruit in their box, which would always be organic and seasonally available.
In 2014, Guy married Geetie Singh-Watson, owner of Britain’s first organic pub, The Duke of Cambridge, in Islington. Since then, she has opened another pub, The Bull Inn, at Totnes.
In 2015, Riverford was valued at £45 million and the veg boxes won Ethical Product of the Decade, at The Observer Ethical Awards. By June 2017, the business was valued at £60 million.
In June 2018, Guy Watson-Singh sold 76% of the Riverford business, at below market price, to an employee ownership trust and 45 000 boxes per week were being delivered, with a total of 650 employees.
This video shows the coronavirus measures which Riverford is taking during the coronavirus pandemic.
Riverford teamed up with Pedal and Post, the bicycle delivery service, in Oxford, in February 2020. https://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/18204088.riverford-organic-farmers-team-pedal-post-green-way-deliver-vegetables/
The coronavirus has created unprecedented demand for organic vegetable and fruit boxes. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/mar/20/uks-organic-vegetable-delivery-firms-abel-and-cole-and-riverford-flat-out-amid-coronavirus-crisis
Until 2017, we had food from both Abel & Cole and Riverford, regularly. Neither does a delivery slot system, which meant waiting for them. It became difficult to cram everything else into three days. So, Riverford was dropped.
Fast forward to 2020. Despite having an Anytime SmartPass since 2012, Ocado let us down. Although we had been customers since 2012, Abel & Cole also let us down. Particularly upsetting because the week before lockdown we had ordered extra milk for the freezer and were told by a customer services person, that A&C wouldn’t be affected. How wrong he was, as Abel & Cole changed my milk order from 3 x 2L of whole milk to one and cancelled my three boxes of large eggs per week. Haven’t had a single egg from Abel & Cole since March.
Riverford to the rescue..
Having changed my password successfully, at the suggestion of a Riverford franchisee on Twitter, we emailed Riverford locally and we have had one veg box, one fruit bag, one box of eggs and now, three litres of milk per week. Probably only as the Riverford sign-in recognised the email address. Really reduced my stress levels.
The paucity of organic eggs is probably due to the renewed interest in home baking. Going without eggs for breakfast four days per week is a big problem as we can’t eat cereals.
However, the quality we are getting from Riverford is excellent. and if we could just get more eggs, we would be even happier. The whole milk is really lovely.
Riverford weekly order
Organic quick veg medium box 16.95
Organic fruit bag small 8.45
6 mixed weight organic eggs 2.60 (restricted availability)
3 x 1L organic unhomogenised whole milk 3.60
TOTAL 31.60 per week