ABOUT OVERBURY FARMS MANAGER & TEAM
Penelope Bossom, owner of Overbury Farms, has a team led by Farm Manager, Jake Freestone. Jake manages six staff including Graham who is part-time and Kyle who is Overbury's 2nd Hartpury sandwich year placement. 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 throughout the year.
Graham, Tim, Derek, and Gordon each have worked for Overbury Farms for over 40 years! All 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 has dropped but new thinks need to be learnt. All have their own particular areas and skills, but all work together as a team.
Jake joined Overbury Farms as Farm Manager in 2003 with previous farm management experience with The Buccleugh Estates (BQ Farms) and Velcourt. In 2013 Jake undertook a Nuffield Farming Scholarship ‘Breaking the Wheat Yield in the UK’.
The results of his study changed the Farming System at Overbury switching to a Regenerative Agriculture system putting the soil at the centre of how we now farm. This involves, direct drilling all of our own crops, covering the fields with living plants and roots at all times, growing a more diverse range of crops and rotating the sheep around the farm.
In 2021 Jake was awarded the Farmers Weekly Environmental Champion and the British Farming Awards Arable Innovator of the Year. This follows the award of the Soil Farmer of the Year in 2020. He has spoken at the Oxford Farming Conference, The Real Oxford Farming Conference the NFU and CLA Annual Conferences on a wide range of topics from Precision Farming, to Regenerative Agricultural techniques and Carbon.
Graham is now part-time but helps out for a number of jobs on the farm.
Graham started at Overbury in the early 70’s and has an unrivaled knowledge of the system.
Alongside Derek, Gordon, Mark and Kiele, Graham carries out general maintenance of the farm, such as erecting and repairing fences. In 2022 they have planted lots of trees for the Queens Green Canopy to mark Her Majesty"s Platinum Jubilee.
With over 40 years of experience with machinery on the farm, Derek is the operator of our cross-slot drill.
Irrigation (and maintenance of the irrigation equipment) of vegetables is also Derek’s responsibility, along with his share of crop-spraying.
General farm maintenance (fencing, pollarding etc) is carried out by Derek, Gordon, Mark, Graham and Kyle.
Gordon (Derek's brother) has worked for Overbury Farms since he was 16; their older brother Andrew retired from Overbury Farms in 2009 after 48 years’ service.
Gordon’s role includes twenty miles of hedge-cutting annually, working alongside the shepherds during lambing; digger operator (for land-drain maintenance, road-making, building work, landscaping etc) and grain-hauling during harvest.
Along with the rest of the team he 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).
Tim’s major responsibility is the 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 combine harvester, with yield mapping & autosteer.
Will joined the team in September this year and is enjoying learning about sustainable farming in Overbury and Conderton. He has previously worked in New Zealand so brings some good experience with him to share with us all. His family lives in Great Witley near Worcester.
Charles has joined us for his 12 month 'sandwich' year from Hartpury University and introduces himself here:
Hello, my name is Charles and I joined the farm team at the end of August 2023. I am currently studying at Hartpury College doing a level 3 in agriculture. As part of this course, I am doing a 12 month work placement on the farm. In my 12 months on the farm I hope to develop my understanding of the working farm and be educated on all areas of the farm. From the last few weeks I have spent here I can already tell how much I’m going to learn from the team at Overbury!
I am not from agricultural background, but I have grown-up around the industry and always wanted to get involved. I love being outdoors and working both with machinery and livestock. Despite not having a background in agriculture I am passionate to pursue a career in it. After I finish my course at Hartpury I plan to work on a farm in New Zealand or Australia to gain experience and see how different countries run farms.