Madras Cafe Unlocked 2020: Discussion on Climate Change, agroecology and social justice

  • Friday July 24, 2020
  • 18.30 - 19.30

Guy Singh-Watson is a self-confessed veg nerd, he has over the last 30 years taken Riverford from one man and a wheelbarrow delivering homegrown organic veg to friends, to a national veg box scheme delivering to around 50,000 customers a week.

Guy is an inspirational, passionate, opinionated and admired figure in the world of organic farming, who still spends more time in the fields than in the boardroom. Twice awarded BBC Radio 4 Farmer of the Year, Guy is passionate about sharing with others the organic farming and business knowledge he has accumulated over the last three decades. His video rants have provided a powerful platform to do this, with a video on pesticides going viral on Facebook to reach 5.6 million views and 91,000 shares. His weekly veg box newsletters connect customers to the farm with refreshingly honest accounts of the trials and tribulations of producing organic food, and the occasional rant about farming, ethical and business issues he feels strongly about.

Guy has always believed that organic food should not be elitist, but accessible for everyone. He has built Riverford to give a fair deal to all – growers, staff, customers and the planet. All of this was recognised in 2015 when Riverford veg boxes were awarded Ethical Product of the Decade at the Observer Ethical Awards.

Employee ownership

Guy has always seen profit as a means not an end. Rejecting numerous investor approaches, Guy always vowed not to allow Riverford to become an enterprise driven purely by the bottom line, or controlled by outside investors. He stuck to his word and on June 8th 2018 sold 74% of Riverford to its employees, at about one third of the market value. He wants to prove that business can be a force for good, and is confident that staff ownership will protect and develop Riverford’s model of sustainable food production and lock in place the values on which the business was founded.

Guy is proof of what determination and belief in a better way of doing things can bring – that you can be both an ethical business and commercially effective. Many see Riverford as not just a source of good food, but as representing hope for a better food system for all.

Anya Nanning Ramamurthy is a young climate justice activist; she strongly believes that we cannot fight against climate breakdown without addressing inequalities and social injustices. She is an active member of the UK Student Climate Network and has been engaged with organising many of the youth climate strikes in London, including mobilising for the largest ever climate strike in world history (September 20th 2019). She also campaigns with Green New Deal UK – calling for ‘an ambitious national plan to tackle climate breakdown while creating a fair society that works for everyone.’ Anya is currently involved in the ‘Build Back Better’ campaign, which is calling on the UK Government for a just and green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Follow the link to watch her video ‘A Young Quaker’s Perspective on Climate’

Andy Rutherford is Chair of Action Village India. Andy has been involved with the Asia Europe People’s Forum since 1996 and one of their core themes is Food Sovereignty. In these Covid times they have organised a range of online seminars and two of the most recent ones have been on Food Sovereignty issues. Follow the links here:



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About Madras Café Unlocked

As a result of COVID-19, WOMAD festival 2020 has been cancelled which has a huge impact on Madras Café and AVI. This is normally a key fundraising event and an opportunity to raise awareness about AVI’s solidarity with rural communities across India. Our re-imagined event, Madras Café Unlocked brings you a summer of online content in support of Action Village India and partners. We launch our five ‘stages’: Madras Café Family, Madras Boombox, Food for Thought, Partnerships & Solidarity and our Exhibition: Food for Justice and Peace on the 24th, 25th & 26th of July and events will run throughout the summer up to 26th September, when we conclude with an International meal in support of Jai Jagat 2020.

Please visit our website for more information.


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