The history of Buzzard's Valley

and the Jones' family.

Approx 55 years ago

Pat and Ivan Jones ( Mum and Dad) had a dream to have their very own farm and after a long wait they were offered a small holding on Canwell estate.
Ivan was so excited and he took his small 4 year old daughter Yvonne down to view on a beautiful Autumn day and fell in love... moving in soon after.

It was 1962 and not long after they moved in Leon was born he was a sickly child but thankfully he grew out of that and became the strong man that he is today.

Andre was born 11 years later, they both played a massive part in setting up Excelsior wholesale but Andre left in 2010. Yvonne and Leon have continued the business together...

Starting out...

Ivan’s first love was Cattle and dairy farming a small loan from Pat’s Dad mean they could buy a 30 cows which he dually named, it took them six years to get on their feet but life was good and they were happy here.

After the foot and mouth crisis Ivan decided that he didn’t want to risk losing his precious cows and sold them. He decided to move onto growing potatoes, processing them into chips and peeled potatoes for the major factories and canteens in the Midlands, this was very successful until the recession hit and many factories were closed down. At the same time one of the customers went out of business and forced the family to once again make some big changes Leon had to move schools, and Ivan had to sell some of the vehicles. Yvonne stayed on at Highclare school and went on to be Deputy Head girl in 1975.

The family continued with the peeled potatoes but evolved to market gardening, growing vegetables like lettuce, spring onions and beetroot in summer, sprouts, root vegetables and leeks in winter... moving on with the trends expanding into growing Swedes, corn, rye, barley and even housed 800 hens. It was hard as the prices paid were constantly falling and it was beginning to make it not even worth harvesting either the wheat or leeks...

Whilst failing to make a profit from wheat and leeks, Ivan, Leon and Andre noticed that the modern trend was turning towards dried flowers. Andre and Nicky went to college to train as florists both loving every minute, and developing their talents to do weddings and more... this helped the business to tick over then

The Canwell Show - Excelsior Dried Flowers

Our local agricultural show, it was decided to have a stand and bunch up as much wheat, rye, oats and a few bunches of the leeks which having not sold had gone to seed, but looked so majestic – purple balls of magnificence.
It seemed better to add them to the stand. The rest is history !! Ten van loads of assorted dried flowers and all the leek flowers were sold! At last a new business was born, going onto become a massive wholesale warehouse supplying many other businesses locally and shipping out lorry loads to Europe with an ever increasing demand for basketware, floristry and Christmas.

Excelsior now sell everything from a diamonte pin to a eight metre tall artificial tree.

In 1968

This soon developed and seven years later the business had evolved to market gardening, growing vegetables like lettuce, spring onions and beetroot throughout the summer.

then...

To move with the trends Ivan invested in growing Sweeds, corn, rye, oats, barley, potatoes and even housed 800 hens!

Construction begins

Built just three metres from its predecessor, unfortunately due to bureaucracy our shop licence had to be reapplied, resulting in no takings for six weeks whilst the licencing application was put to the council!

Proudly stocking thousands of products at their wholesale units at the farm, with a vision and determination, the vineyard, several pools and lakes were drawn up for the local planning office.

"diversify, or die"

Whilst Margaret Thatcher was in power, the agricultural industry hit a standstill. With Thatcher once saying "diversify, or die", Ivan couldn't stand by and watch the farm stay fallow. After a great deal of deliberation we were finally allowed the go ahead and things were put into plan.

By mid may, 2001, 8000 vines had been planted throughout the 120 metre long 67 rows. Having successfully harvested the first year's crops, come 2002, work had started on digging out the eight lakes and pools for course fishing.

Vineyard & Fisheries

Shipping out lorry loads around Europe, the ever increasing demand for basketware lead Excelsior to secure an importer ever since the 1980's.

then...

Branching out into the wholesale world of flowers, Excelsior now sell from a Delmonte pin to an eight metre tall artificial tree.

Finally completed

Growing in excess of 100 thousand plants a year, the Green houses were imported from Boston housing lettuce and vegetable plants, some plants are left out for hardening.

With the useful help of the planning office, the old shop was stripped down for the new. Finally completed in 2005, the fisheries, bistro, wine shop and Excelsior Dried Flowers still continue to grow to be one of Europe's best suppliers.