Greenhouse Pioneer: Christopher and Maria Dawson, Clearspring
The UK’s biggest celebration of everything organic is nearly upon us. Organic September, a month that encourages people to taste, buy and grow more organic starts tomorrow. To kick off this organic celebration, Greenhouse has interviewed pioneer Christopher Dawson and his daughter Maria Dawson from the family-owned and inspirational organic food business, Clearspring.
With their commitment to protect the planet, to provide sustainable food for future generations and to support smallholder farmers, Clearspring is a company with a powerful mission you need to get behind.Tell us, in 20 words or fewer, about Clearspring - what's your mission? Clearspring is a family-owned business and for over 25 years we have been committed to pioneering authentic Japanese specialities and organic fine foods. What drives you? Our core belief is that everyone has an inherent right to access quality organic food. Our products make a valuable contribution to sustainable agriculture, by supporting organic farmers and artisan food producers. By enriching the soil and caring for the eco-system, we are protecting the world that we pass on to our children. What is your greatest achievement to date? So many to choose from! From the humble beginnings of Japanese Miso soup to over 260 products today and counting! One of the biggest achievements of Clearspring is maintaining the integrity of the products. There are no cutting corners, there is no second best. Clearspring has pioneered and supported organic producers for many years, and now I have the chance to continue to build the awareness and engagement in the organic industry for future generations. What are the challenges you face? Over the past 25 years, we have seen many challenges here at Clearspring, whether it is sourcing sustainably and maintaining our ethics, or packaging errors and constant fluctuations in currency! Even in the face of challenges, we still believe we are doing the right thing. As a company, we believe in the long-term investment in our products, rather than quick wins. What are you working on that's getting you fired up and excited? We just love new product innovation! Christopher travels far and wide to meet with artisan producers and farmers to find the next Clearspring product. This really is where Christopher and Maria come alive and fired up. Everyone at Clearspring is part of the development of products – we even have daily tastings of new products to try in the office! Where do you want to take Clearspring next? Clearspring is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and as the eldest daughter of the Dawson family and Sales & Marketing Director of Clearspring, Maria Dawson is very much the driving force behind the future of Clearspring. Christopher is very active in the business, focusing on the new innovations and travelling extensively and attending events & shows. In Christopher’s word – it’s our window to the world and our mission to spread the word of sustainable, organic and quality food. What can we, as individuals, do to make a difference? The hot topic for the entire natural and organic industry is the vegan/plant-based and conscious-living movement, which is sweeping through everything and going mainstream. It’s coming full circle to where Clearspring started over 25 years ago. Clearspring has always believed in providing quality organic products that are sustainable, have integrity and are 100% vegan. This movement shouldn’t just be a trend, it’s a way of living for a sustainable planet and providing for future generations, and it must stay. How is what you are doing inspiring change in others? We believe in the intrinsic value of our core ingredients and promise to always maintain the integrity of our mission. We love what we do and invite you to discover the great taste of Clearspring. Join us on our journey for the next generation. Can you recommend a life- or game-changing book for our readers? Christopher has so many books – from organic agriculture to biodynamic farming to plant-based recipe books – we have a constant need to learn here at Clearspring. What do you listen to when you're cooking dinner? We absolutely love food and cooking! Inspired by macrobiotic, Japanese principles, Maria loves cooking up delicious plant-based meals for her friends and family using Clearspring products, showing just how delicious and plentiful flavours can be in plant-based cooking. Music wise, Maria loves listening to anything and everything from hip-hop to classic jazz. What's the best advice you've ever been given? Believe in your ‘Why’ – it should be at the heart of everything you do. If you feel passionate about something, its likely to inspire others to feel the same. Can you leave us with who'd be your Eco-Hero? We are inspired by so many people here at Clearspring. Over the years, we have had the honour of meeting with some incredible people within the natural and organic industry, many of which use our products. Greenhouse has worked alongside some inspiring change-makers in the food and health industry, including Organix, The Organic Trade Board and Hodmedod’s. To discover other foodie pioneers we’ve spoken to visit our blog, where you can find Phil Haughton from Better Food, Kris Gibbon-Walsh from Fareshare and Craig Sams from Carbon Gold. If you are a food brand that’s questioning the norm with an ethical mission and looking for PR support then we would love to hear from you.