Riverford Farm was taken over by the Watson family in the 1950s and followed the normal pattern for British farms until the mid-1980s, when Guy Watson decided to convert to organic farming. By the late 1980s this had been achieved. Watson aimed to find an effective way of distributing his produce. His idea was the weekly veg box scheme, the box being delivered direct to customers' doors with locally grown produce.
Riverford states that having four farms around the country permits economies of scale that approach those of supermarkets, whilst reducing the delivery time from field to kitchen and ensuring fresh food. It chooses varieties for flavour rather than appearance and delivers earthy vegetables, which improves storage and taste.
Starting from a weekly delivery of around 30 boxes to family and friends, by early 2010 Riverford was delivering around 45,500 boxes per week and sending its own meat and dairy products as well as vegetables and fruit to 60,000 households nationwide. To achieve this they have formed a mutual cooperative of British farmers - not all in Devon. The weekly boxes come with a newsletter explaining the content of the box, giving farm news from Riverford and providing appropriate recipes.
On 2 December 2007 Riverford appeared at number 92 in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100, a list of the 100 fastest growing companies in the UK. In 2009 Riverford won the award for best ethical business at the Observer ethical awards.
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- Ellis, Hattie (2010-01-28). "It's time to think inside the (vegetable) box scheme". London: The Times Online. Retrieved 2010-03-04.
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