Business partner: Riverford Organic Farms and the Soil Association

The organic farm links up with the organic food charity.

This is a partnership forged, if not in heaven, then in a strong philosophical affinity. Guy Watson, winner of the BBC’s Farmer of the Year 2012 award and founder of Riverford, an organic farm that delivers 37,000 vegetable boxes each week, has close links with the organic food charity the Soil Association.

Watson describes himself as a “staunch supporter” and two of Riverford’s five directors are former employees of the charity. The two organisations have recently come together to support a campaign called Keep Britain Buzzing, which wants a ban on neonicotinoid pesticides, thought by many scientists to be contributing to the rapidly declining bee population.

In November, Riverford’s 37,000 customers were sent campaign packs with their vegetable boxes, together with a newsletter from Watson explaining his support for the campaign. “It seemed to chime very well with a significant number of our customers,” he says. Nearly 500 Riverford customers have donated or joined the Soil Association as a result - 10 times the rate of previous membership appeals done for the charity by Riverford.

In addition, Twitter and Facebook activity in the same week reached more than 415,000 people. This coincided with the Soil Association giving evidence on the issue to the House of Commons Environmental Audit committee.

“It’s been a real breakthrough in how we can use a multi-media approach and harness the power of a company like Riverford,” says Stephen Last, head of membership and supporter services at the Soil Association.

Third Sector, 29 January 2013

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