The villages of North and Middle Littleton developed as agricultural hamlets where the main occupation was working on the land either on small plots as individual growers or on larger farms.
Historically local orchards provided apples for the production of cider which was made and sold at various outlets in North Littleton until the production was eventually concentrated at the Ivy Inn. This activity ceased in the years after the Second World War but the Ivy Inn still remains as the local public house.
Another public house exists on the western boundary of the parish. This is the Fish and Anchor Inn which traces its origins back to the 16th Century. This hostelry had no connection with agriculture but seems to owe its original existence to the positioning of a ford across the River Avon and to river traffic from Gloucester to Stratford.
In living memory there were seven farms in the village of North Littleton and one in Middle Littleton and 26 growers in North and 36 in Middle. Today only four farms are in operation in North and one in Middle.
There is a mixture of arable and livestock farming; wheat, oats and beans for animal fodder, oil-seed rape and linseed are the main crops with sheep and cattle being the main livestock. One farm has been devoted to a farm animal sanctuary while most of the other farms have diversified into additional activities such as livery stables and contract work.
Market gardening has declined more with much of the land previously devoted to growing vegetables and to orchards, being turned into arable farm land.
In view of the market gardening and farming background, it is not surprising that an industry should develop associated with the processing and distribution of the produce from these activities.
In Middle Littleton, two haulage businesses, carrying produce to markets in Bristol and Birmingham and linking with rail links to London developed on the west side of Cleeve Road. On one of these sites, the packing and distributing fruit and mushrooms became important and then, later, the bottling of beetroot was introduced. This site changed ownership in 1990 but continued the pattern of food processing and distribution under two separate firms – Kanes Foods and Christian Salvesen Distribution. In 1998, the commercial distribution business moved from the site and the whole area was then devoted to food processing.
Kanes Foods is now an industry of national importance providing chilled foods to Sainsbury, ASDA and TESCO. In 2012/13 the company achieved over £115 million turnover. Profits over the past 10 years have been invested in the site, culminating in the construction of a modern, eco sympathetic new bagged salad factory which, in 2012 won the Worcester and Hereford Chamber of Commerce award for Sustainability.
Kanes is an industry leader in sustainability. It pioneered the process of reverse osmosis and high efficiency ultra-filtration in its water reclamation and is one of the few chilled food processors to have rejected mass chlorine washes in production.
The company is proud of its landscaping and has developed wildlife areas within the factory site. The economic impact of Kanes benefits Evesham and the surrounding Vale. Kanes has 110 local suppliers of produce and services, with a local supplier spend of some £10 million in 2012.
There are almost 1800 employees at Kanes generating an annual gross labour income of £30million.
The other haulage business eventually became Pete Bott’s Skips Ltd, a successful waste transfer station and recycling depot.
The recently opened Meadwell farm shop, on the Cleeve Road in Middle Littleton, provides an outlet for vegetables grown on site and for locally grown crops.
Other industries that have developed are not associated with the agricultural background. These include the previously mentioned skip hire and recycling, an auction room and a double glazing business. There are several small building and home improvement businesses and on-line distribution activities operating from private dwellings.