Samphire, it sounds like a breath of summer – sea breezes, salt and days spent hunting in rock pools for shrimp.
‘You don’t have to soak samphire before cooking it.
Just blanch it for a minute and then refresh it in cold water,’ he tells me, as we survey a happy crowd of expectant lunchers in the restaurant.
‘Normally I can’t bear food fashions, but samphire is a good one.
It’s succulent, salty and a great match for fish and eggs – and broad beans…’ Because of this happy local accident lucky recipients of a Riverford vegetable box can, while the season lasts, and for a small supplement, order a bag of marsh samphire with their delivery.
It tastes delicious, fresh and faintly salty – a brilliant early-morning forager’s breakfast.
Joe, who is 32, used to be a teacher at a school in Hackney, east London, until he came back to farm in Devon three years ago.
Guy Watson is pleased by this sudden access to a forager’s dream larder.
He is in charge of organic vegetables at Riverford – sending out nearly 50,000 boxes a week across the country.
Marsh samphire, on the other hand, is related to the beet family and is often known as glasswort from its former use in soda glass manufacture.
It is also found near the sea, but thrives in estuaries, where it colonises wetland areas rich in mineral and trace elements.
The farm is run by Chris and Diana Miller and their two sons, Harry and Joe, and, largely due to its SSSI status, its hedgerows and grasslands have remained pretty much as they were in the 17th century.