We are proud to announce Gary and Jayne Oakes of Oakes Farm Shop as the April winners of our Business Person of the Month award.
The Oakes family have farmed the land on Balsall Street, Balsall Common, for over 90 years but with conditions becoming increasingly difficult for British farmers, the couple realised they needed to do something innovative to ensure a future for their children.
After more than 12 years planning, the family have expanded their honesty box into one of Britains biggest farm shops, plus delicatessen, butcher and baker, and 56-seat cafe, with a resounding passion for supporting local producers.
Im gobsmacked, said Jayne. We only opened the business because its something we wanted and now were sitting here with the Solihull News and the Mayor of Solihull. Were absolutely delighted to be chosen as winners.
Wed built up a steady supply of regulars with our honesty box but we werent sure they would go for the cafe. Everyones been so supportive.
After opening its doors in February, the shop is now employing 16 people including the Oakes four children, who Gary hopes will take over the business one day.
It has been very difficult for farmers, particularly the last year, he said. We have around 100 acres which, when my father had it, would have supported a family. Now it would just about support me.
Opening this shop is about building a future for our children.
Mayor of Solihull, Councillor Ken Hawkins, congratulated Gary and Jayne on their award and for supporting local producers as well as investing and creating jobs in the borough.
He also praised the Solihull News Business Person of the Month Award, in partnership with the Marriott Forest of Arden Hotel, for supporting local business.
I think its brilliant that we have two smashing companies, willing to champion one of the things thats so great about Solihull; its enterprise, said the Mayor.
Solihull is doing something brilliant and its right thats recognised.
Oakes Farm Shop features Kenilworth and Blythe honey, produced from bees on the farm, handmade cakes using Oakes free range eggs, hand-made cards made in the village by Mandy Gill, vegetables from Washbrook Farm in Ebrington, and preserves from Fosters in Market Harborugh.
Do you know someone who you think should be out next Business Person of the Month? Email email@example.com