Overbury Farms is an arable and sheep farm set within the Cotswold AONB on the historic slopes of Bredon Hill on the Worcestershire/Gloucestershire border.
Farmer: Jake Freestone
Address: Overbury, near Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, GL20 7NR
Member since 2003 and LEAF Demonstration Farm since 2012
Certification: LEAF Marque
Overbury Farms is an arable and sheep farm set within the Cotswold AONB on the Worcestershire/Gloucestershire border. It forms part of the Overbury Estate which has been in the same family since 1722. Covering 1,538 hectares, it surrounds the picturesque villages of Overbury and Conderton. The farm has a long tradition of farming to the highest standards of environmental stewardship combining the best of traditional farming with modern technology to produce quality crops and healthy animals. A wide range of crops are grown including wheat, barley, oilseed rape, beans and grass. Areas of the farm are also let out to specialist growers for potatoes, onions and peas. Careful management through IFM is utilised - seed varieties that have natural resistance to disease, sound crop rotations, good soil management and only using fertilisers when they are absolutely necessary and applied using precision farming techniques. Cover crops, zero-tillage, rotation and organic matter status are key to Jake’s work to ensure the farm is fit for the future. Jake manages 45km of footpaths and bridleways, 25km hedgerows and 24km stonewalls.
The farm is also home to a 1,200 strong sheep flock of North Country Mules and home bred Texel cross Mules. They keep outside as much as possible, grazing on grass and stubble turnips until lambing in April. The arable and sheep enterprises are fully integrated, the sheep playing an integral part in the arable rotation acting as ‘mobile fertiliser spreaders’ returning valuable organic matter and fertiliser back to the soil. All lamb is LEAF Marque certified and sold to Sainsbury’s as well as to local markets and food outlets.
Rainwater is harvested from the lambing shed roof to provide water for the sheep when they are being housed. Fuel use is monitored and matched to specific field operations helping reduce energy consumption. Protection and enhancement of the farm’s wealth of environmental features is a key consideration, examples
including tree planting, field margins, skylark plots and use of nectar rich areas, wild bird seed mixes and wildflower margins to encourage birds and insects.
A community orchard has been started at Overbury and the farm has very close links with the local community and local schools, holding a lambing day every year and regularly hosting farm visits including LEAF Open Farm Sunday. Through farm notice boards, and Farmer Jake’s twitter, YouTube and blogging, the message of farming with care for the environment is being heard far and wide!
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