Geetie and Guy
The Duke’s founder, Geetie Singh married Guy Watson, the man behind Riverford, in June 2014 and, perhaps inevitably, their businesses followed suit…
A little more about these two organic pioneers.
Geetie grew up on a commune in the Midlands, where she was taught from an early age to be aware of the impact we each make on the world around us. She moved to London in the early 1990s and started working in restaurants, but became deeply disillusioned with the lack of sustainability. She quickly decided there was a market for a restaurant that cared about its impact on the environment as well as serving fantastic food and drink. It took a few years to make a plan, find the money and the right venue, but in 1998 she opened The Duke of Cambridge – the UK’s first organic gastropub. 15 years in, The Duke has been an outstanding success, having won and been nominated for many awards (link to Press & Awards). Geetie herself has won a few awards too along the way, including an MBE in 2009, for “Services to the Organic Pub Trade”. She is an active campaigner and firmly believes businesses must act responsibly and be led by their values. On this, Geetie has said: “Am I an environmentalist or a restaurateur? Well I don’t think you can do what I do without being bloody good at your job, but I would say both are equally important to me. Food is my love – but food at any cost? Not on your life! ”
Guy was born and raised on the family farm at Riverford, in South Devon. Guy’s father took the tenancy of Riverford in the 1950s and in the 1980s, Guy decided to convert to farming organically. His antipathy to selling to supermarkets led him to set up the weekly veg box scheme. He started out delivering by wheelbarrow to 30 friends locally. 28 years later, Riverford now delivers around 47,000 boxes every week to homes around the UK with veg grown at four regional farms, supplemented by a number of independent organic farmers and growers. When not tending to his vegetables, Guy puts his experience to good use in a variety of ways. He lectures regularly on ethical business, and often uses the media coverage he gains to highlight political issues relevant to food and farming. His leadership has been recognised with numerous awards including Observer Best Ethical Business, and Best Ethical Restaurant in 2009, for the Riverford Field Kitchen. Set up in 2005 and located at the heart of Riverford HQ on Wash Farm, the Field Kitchen has won praise from some of the biggest names in food, such as Giles Coren and Gordon Ramsay.