We are very excited to share the news that Jake Freestone, Overbury Farms Manager, and Tanya Robbins, farmer and daughter of local farmer Richard Hughes of Grafton, have recently been awarded Nuffield Farming Scholarships.
Nuffield award around twenty individuals each year with the opportunity to research topics of interest in farming, food, horticulture or rural sectors. Scholars are able to travel anywhere in the world, visiting one or more countries in order to further knowledge and understanding, with a view to advancing their respective industries. More information about the Nuffield Farming Scholarships Trust can be found on their website www.nuffieldscholar.org.
Jake will be studying the possibilities of growing 20T/ha of wheat in the next 20 years. He has been writing a blog since 2006 and has been ‘tweeting’ since October 2010 (@No1FarmerJake). Harvest 2011 saw the launch of his YouTube channel documenting life at Overbury Farms, helping promote the positive aspects of our modern agricultural industry. He will no doubt be blogging, tweeting and ‘YouTubing’ the progress of his studies!
Tanya’s title is 'Innovative Women in Today's Agriculture'. Her studies will take her to Canada, Norway, India & Uganda. Tanya says it was a lovely surprise to meet Jake at the Nuffield Foundation in Bedford Square, London on the interview day and truly wonderful that they were both awarded scholarships!
Jake was born in Zambia on the 6th October 1971 to Ian and Mary Freestone. They moved back to Bristol (where Jake attended St Mary Redcliffe and Temple Church of England School). Jake completed a BSc (Honours) Degree at Seale-Hayne Agricultural College in 1995 before working as an Assistant Farm Manager for the Duke of Buccleuch at BQ Farms on the Boughton Estate in Northamptonshire.
Between 1999 and 2003 Jake worked for Velcourt as a Farm Manager, in Kent, Gloucestershire and Lincolnshire before moving to Overbury Farms in 2003. Farm enterprises managed included; dairy, sheep, arable, potatoes and sugar beet.
Jake currently manages the in-hand farming operations for Penelope Bossom trading as Overbury Farms on the Gloucestershire/Worcestershire border. The farm totals 1560ha and comprises of arable crops, land let for vegetable production (potatoes, peas and salad onions) and permanent grassland. The grass carries a flock of 1200 ewes. The farm hosts a very diverse Higher Level Stewardship scheme, started in January 2011.
Overbury farms joined LEAF in 2003. Jake has been a keen supporter of Open Farm Sunday since the first event in 2006. In July 2007 the farm was awarded the LEAF Marque for lamb and the farm regularly carries out the LEAF Audit. The farm regularly hosts open days throughout the year and is twinned with Wychall Primary School in Birmingham (hosting 3 visits per year with the same group of children).
In the past Jake has been a chairman of the Worcestershire FWAG (Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group) and EPAC (Environment Protection Advisory Committee) sitting with the West Midlands Environment Agency.
Currently Jake sits on the Sainsbury’s Lamb Steering Group and is a steering member on the Molson Coors Growers Group.
In November 2009 Jake climbed Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and keeps fit running half marathons (6 in total), and has just completed a 210 mile cycle ride raising money for the Princess’s Countryside Fund. In 2010 Jake was a runner-up in the Farmers Weekly ‘Farm Manager of the Year ‘competition.
Last year Jake spoke at the Sainsbury’s ‘Farming for the Future’ Conference and in March this year gave a presentation at the Precision Farming Conference .
In October 2012 Jake was awarded a Nuffield Farming Scholarship, to study the possibilities of growing 20T/ha of wheat in the next 20 years.
As a school child Tanya's Saturday & Sunday morning job was to be gate opener for her Uncle Nigel as he went round the farm checking the sheep and cattle. Tanya really enjoyed this as he shared family stories with her concerning the farm. For a number of years she worked away from Grafton, doing two lambing seasons for Steven Wood at Redditch, a couple of summers at the Cotswold Farm Park for Joe Henson and a number of years as secretary for Bourton Vale Equine Clinic. While doing this work she and her husband Tom were starting to farm themselves. They began with 50 ewe lambs and have bred their own replacements to lamb about 450 each year on their tennanted sheep and arable farm by Temple Guiting. Three days a week Tanya works with her father, Richard Hughes, on his farm at Grafton adjacent to Overbury.