ABOUT OVERBURY FARMS MANAGER & TEAM
Penelope Bossom, owner of Overbury Farms, has a team led by Farm Manager, Jake Freestone. Jake manages five staff, one of whom is the full time shepherd. Where the team once comprised about thirty men, larger machinery and new technology enables just four highly-skilled men, all living on the Estate, to carry out all the farming activities through out the year.
Graham, Tim, Derek, Gordon and Reg have worked for Overbury Farms for a combined total of well over 150 years! All five have seen dramatic changes on the farm during their lifetimes, not least in the size and complexity of machinery; as machinery grew in power, the number of men required to do the work dropped. All have their own particular skills, but all work together as a team.
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.
In 2011 Jake spoke at the Sainsbury’s ‘Farming for the Future’ Conference and in March 2012 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 a sustainable farming system following the principles of LEAF’s integrated farm management.
Reg joined the Overbury Farms team as the full time Shepherd in June 2014. Reg is responsible for the day to day running of the sheep enterprise working closely with Jake and the arable team. Reg grew up in the small welsh village of Pontrhydfendigad near Tregaron spending as much time as possible helping on family and friends farms. In 2006 Reg left the beautiful welsh mountains to pursue a full time career as Assistant Shepherd at Highclere Castle.
To gain further experience he worked at Tascroft Farm in Wiltshire and then moved to Walford and North Shropshire College as Head Shepherd to a small flock of ewes.
In 2010 Reg moved to Sir Richard Sutton’s Estate in Lincolnshire (a LEAF Demonstration Farm) as Assistant Stockman looking after 120 Lincoln Red Cattle and 1200 ewes.
Reg is accompanied on the quad bike by either Cymro, Scrumpy, Sally or Pip – and sometimes all of them!
Graham is responsible for a number of jobs on the farm including pea-drilling (sowing) and rolling.
In charge of the Grain Drier and Grain Storage, Graham started at Overbury in the early 70’s and has an unrivalled knowledge of the system. During a wet harvest, grain cut by the combine comes into drier (in order to reduce moisture to the required level). On a ‘normal’ year grain solely requires cleaning and storing.
Graham records full details of crops harvested in order to maintain traceability requirements by buyers and oversees collection of grain from storage.
Alongside Derek and Gordon, Graham carries out general maintenance of the farm, such as erecting and repairing fences.
With over 30 years experience of ploughing and cultivating, Derek is now driver of a John Deere 8530 with the Vaderstat Topdown, an “all-in-one” cultivator, the output of which is around 86 acres a day.
Irrigation (and maintenance of the irrigation equipment) of potatoes and salad onions is also Derek’s responsibility, along with his share of crop-spraying and grain-hauling during harvest.
General farm maintenance (fencing, pollarding etc) is carried out by Derek, Graham and Gordon.
Gordon has worked for Overbury Farms since he was 16; older brother Andrew retired from Overbury Farms in 2009 after 48 years’ service.
Gordon’s role on the Farms includes twenty miles of hedge-cutting annually, working alongside the shepherd during lambing; digger operator (for land-drain maintenance, road-making, building work, landscaping etc); grain-hauling during harvest and, having taken over from Andrew, drilling crops (sowing) with the new Simba Horscht drill.
Along with Derek and Graham, Gordon will keep an eye on the ditches and culverts and other general farm maintenance such as fencing, stone-walling and tree maintenance.
Tim (cousin of Derek and Gordon) carries out the majority of the annual spraying operation (when weather conditions permit), which involves not only chemical pesticides but also liquid fertilisers.
Tim’s major responsibility is all-year round farm machinery maintenance including welding and sourcing new/replacement parts.
When the crops are ripe (July / August), and the weather is right, Tim is the main operator of the John Deere S680i combine harvester, with yield mapping & autosteer.