2022 has certainly been a year to appreciate and be grateful for things we have previously taken for granted. As we look back on the first ‘normal’ year since the challenges of COVID and the lockdowns, it has been lovely to see the whole Overbury community coming together in more traditional ways – the first Overbury Street Market since 2019, celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee - and later marking her death - and the new regular pop up markets where the team really enjoy catching up with you all (and many of your four-legged friends too!).
As we head into 2023 it makes us appreciate living and working in such a beautiful, supportive location. We would like to share with you what we, here at Overbury Enterprises, have been up to during 2022.
The farm team has had a productive year with some new additions, both human, mechanical and animal, which will help support wildlife and farming methods into the future. Owen Bates has joined the team on a sandwich year from Hartpury College. A new Redikop Seed Control unit was attached to the combine at harvesting time (you may have heard it!) which mills the chaff to destroy weed seeds, stopping them germinating in the fields, over time reducing the need for herbicides. Have a look at Jake’s You Tube channel to see it in action https://www.youtube.com/@No1FarmerJake
Jake has picked up more awards this year – the Future of Farming award at the BBC Food and Farming Awards and the prestigious Steven and Gillian Bullock award at the Nuffield Farming Conference. This is given to the scholar who has made the most impact both in their own business and to benefit the wider farming industry in the ten years since being awarded their Nuffield scholarship. Read about his achievements here . He was also invited to speak to the World Trade Organisation in Geneva in November about sustainable agriculture and the use of technology in agriculture to increase food security and traceability.
There are some new faces on the farm being cared for by Sam and Shirley, our shepherds. These are ‘wool shedding’ sheep, a cross between Lleyn and Exlana breeds, which need much less shearing; with a view to breeding them and bringing them into the existing flock.
Forestry and Keepering
Habitat management appears to be working well with a good range of flora and fauna reported on the hill this year, despite the challenging conditions during the summer months. You may also have noticed the large number of red kites around. The keepers managed to ring two kite chicks to help us keep track of them. There were also two successful nests of lapwings, which was really pleasing. Please do ensure you keep dogs on leads and to the paths especially during nesting season. This is vital to ensure the safety of ground nesting birds like the lapwings. The keepers also fed 500kg of wild bird seed on one day during the recent cold snap to keep the small birds alive – keep putting out your garden bird feeders – they are important!
We were very proud to receive a special award on behalf of Overbury from the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust for Overbury’s commitment to the Big Farmland Bird Count. With the help of local bird lovers and Overbury Enterprise teams, we have taken part every year since 2014. Penelope collected the prizes at Ragley Game Fair and they have been shared with the children at Grasshoppers.
We have had a huge number of log sales this winter so far – approximately twice the usual number! It did get chilly, so remember to keep your heating up to battle any condensation problems! It was also lovely to also be able to offer Overbury Christmas trees to residents this year.
As the extremely mild autumn turned to an Artic winter, the garden team has continued its tireless efforts to enhance the natural floral beauty of Overbury. If you haven’t seen them, you may well have heard them as they have been blowing and collecting leaves, hear there and everywhere. These have then gone to make great compost which in turn will be put back on the beds in the kitchen garden, at the court and around the villages. We have two new members of staff - gardener Josh Martin and our apprentice Keziah Ashby. They are both friendly, hard working gardeners and are very happy to join the blossoming team. Clearing has been underway on the scrubby road side up the hill to ensure we have a dazzling spring bulb display, unhindered by mountains of brambles and ivy. Along the verges in the village are some late flowing biennials to ensure a picturesque display throughout the summer. The garden team will be taking a well-deserved rest in between Christmas and New Year to recharge their batteries to hit the ground running in January.
Alongside their busy schedule of sorting day to day maintenance issues for all our properties, the maintenance team have also undertaken refurbishments of several properties this year for us and Overbury Investments, including Manor Lodge in Conderton, 2 School Lane, 49 Overbury and Barron House. Mark is also project managing the conversion of the Dynamo House (formerly Brake Cottage) which is being converted into a flexible space with catering facilities and will be available to let for group lunches and workshops once it’s complete. It will join our Overbury Hub flexible letting spaces and will be finished to an equally high standard. The team has also been involved in installing electric car charging points – an exciting addition to the village. There are three for villagers to use in the Rose Cottage Car Park, but please use them with others in mind, parking sensibly and not for longer than you need. Simon Whitaker, from our joinery Workshop has also completed numerous projects; he is an extremely skilled joiner, creating everything from windows for listed buildings to gates, table tops, made-to-measure sideboard cabinets and bespoke shelving units. Contact him on 07860 112911 if you have a joinery project in mind.
We are very proud of our progress with the Hub this year. We have completed the refurbishment of the Old Smithy and add that to our beautiful, flexible rural workspaces alongside the Old Village Shop and our five-star holiday let, Manor Farmhouse.
Lettings for meetings, interviews and just a desk for the day to work in peace and quiet with fibre broadband and tea and coffee in an inspiring environment have increased again this year post-COVID and we have welcomed people from all over the region to work and stay in our stunning location. With more people working from home, we are excited to offer discounted mid-week breaks to companies wishing to use all our hub facilities – Manor Farmhouse, the Old Smithy and the Old Village Shop - for a complete off-site adventure. We can help with tailoring a package to meet the needs of our clients. The next steps for 2023 are working on our Hub website to ensure all our meeting rooms and flexible work spaces are marketed in a way that best promotes our village as a wonderful place to work and learn.
Supported by the brilliant team at Grasshoppers, the children have had another busy year filled with fun and learning. Being in Overbury means great opportunities to go on adventures around the villages to enjoy watching the tractors, combines, lambs and getting hands on with the garden team to learn all about growing things. More recently the children selected their tree for nursery with help from Santa.
Back at the office…
We have had a few staff changes this year and many of you will already have met Andrea and Jo who joined the team in June and August respectively, and who answer your initial calls and emails along with a multitude of other Overbury Hub tasks. Matt Whitehouse has also joined us as part of our accounts team. We also said happy retirement (it’s never really goodbye as she is still very much part of Overbury) to Ros Long. Ros has been working with Overbury for nearly 50 years and her wealth of knowledge and insight into how Overbury works and the way this has changed over that time is fascinating. She is very much missed but still around for us to pick her brains when required – especially if we make her a cup of tea and give her a slice of cake!
Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2023 from all of us at Overbury Enterprises.