The 12-strong group produces field vegetables in a county not ideally suited to all vegetable crops. Despite this, it has expanded to become one of the largest organic grower and supplier co-operatives in the UK, with more than 240ha in vegetable production.
Among the crops it has successfully trialled and now grows to programme are edamame beans, kohl rabi, golden beetroot and borlotti beans, while this year it will trial purple mange tout and flat beans, while also harvesting cauliflowers as late as early July.
South Devon Organic Producers works closely with its sole customer, vegetable box supplier Riverford Organic Farmers, to meet demanding specifications and schedules, with a Riverford representative visiting all of the farms every week to assess the immediate and forthcoming crop availability, so keeping unharvested, out-of-specification or otherwise wasted crops to a minimum.
Growing costs are rigorously analysed, helping growers to become more efficient throughout the entire process, with minimal inputs, and so become profitable. The group owns a wide range of specialist machinery, which has to be maintained to an extremely high standard to enable its growing programme to run smoothly.
Over the past three years Riverford has handed crop planning, plant and seed selection and sourcing to the group - in practice a detailed and lengthy task but one that is essential for efficient supply.