A day on the farm with Oxbury customers David and Joe Straw at Woodstock Farm 

Investing in growth and expansion

As Manchester City stroll to their fourth Premier League title in as many years, who is to say that the quality of the turf that they train on hasn’t had a big part in their success? 

The Citizens turned to Lindow Lawn Turf to supply the grass for their training ground where players such as Jack Grealish, Phil Foden and Kyle Walker have perfected skills that have thrilled spectators and dazzled defenders on their way to countless trophies. 

David Straw, a City fan, is the third generation to manage the turf business that was started by his grandfather, who grew and sold turf alongside his fruit and veg business. 

“When my dad turned 20, he started working with him, but concentrating on the turf side while my grandad stuck to the fruit and veg. When I left school, I joined my dad on the turf and it’s grown from there.” 

Growing turf needs large, flat fields, which are difficult to come by. The Straw family have in the past owned a small amount of land themselves, rented other land and, when demand was high, bought from a third party. 

When this third party indicated they were looking to sell Woodstock Farm in Irlam, Greater Manchester, David was offered first refusal. 

“Of course I said yes, on the understanding that I could get the money together first.” He was able to find a short-term loan from a finance company to secure the purchase and, when the term of the loan was nearing its end, he was introduced to Oxbury to refinance. 

Working with Oxbury was a breath of fresh air. Relationship Manager Victoria Crisp visited the farm with one of the bank’s underwriters to get an understanding of the business. 

“I don’t think I ever used to meet anyone at my other bank – I certainly didn’t have any farm visits,” said David. “It was a smooth process and it seemed to be less work for me, which I’m always happy with!” 

“Getting out on farm is a huge part of what we do. You learn something on every farm you go to and it’s really important to meet the people behind any business,” said Victoria. 

With finance secure for the land, David was able to turn his attention to other investments for the business, including a new biomass boiler to provide heat and power to the farm from a renewable source.  

“We get lot of broken pallets and it seems a waste just to make bonfires out of them.” 

Other eco-friendly measures adopted by the farm include a contract with the council to take organic waste and turn it into compost, which is then used on the fields. This replaces the top layer of soil taken when cutting the turf and reduces the need for peat. 

Manchester City Manager Pep Guardiola knows the importance of developing young players and the purchase of Woodstock Farm has given David the opportunity to secure the business for a fourth generation. The farm is 15 miles away from their base in Wilmslow so David’s 19-year-old son Joe has set up home on the new farm and manages the operation there.  

Joe said: “It’s given me a lot of responsibility because it’s on my back to maintain things here, but I’ve always had my dad to back me up.” 

At the same time, Joe’s younger brother Noel, 15, is taking on more responsibility at the Wilmslow site and it won’t be long before he is knocking on the manager’s door asking for more game time.  

This hunger for success, combined with support from Oxbury, promises a successful business for years to come. 

“This business has got such a strong foundation and there’s so much opportunity to expand,” said Victoria. And it’s really nice to see the family started by David’s parents continue the succession through the generations.”