This September marks the fourth anniversary of Phil and Liz Andreozzi taking on the tenancy of Kilsham Farm near Petworth in West Sussex.

They were one of about 25 applicants for the chance to run their own farm and make a start in the industry.

Those applicants were whittled down to a list of three, who were interviewed by Lord Egremont – the owner of Leconfield Estates – and his agent. After their success, Lord Egremont – who takes a keen interest in the tenants on his estate – visited Phi and Liz.

Although the tenancy was secure, the farmhouse still had to be renovated, and they moved in during May 2015. “This was our first ever application for a tenancy,” said Liz. “Phil was the brave one who said we should do it and did all the figures.”

Two things in particular helped them win the tenancy. One was the excellent reputation of Phil’s father Luigi, who runs a sheep farm in partnership with Phil’s mother Susan seven miles from Kilsham Farm at Lurgashall. The other was the Andreozzi’s plan – set out in their tender for the tenancy – about how they wanted to run Kilsham as a traditional mixed, family farm. This must have struck a chord with Lord Egremont.

Long before they moved to Kilsham Farm, Liz and Phil met at Sparsholt College in Hampshire where they studied agriculture. Liz began her career in outdoor pigs before she and Phil went up to Northamptonshire where they worked on a large arable and suckler herd farm for five years. They moved back to West Sussex, had their children and stayed on Luigi’s farm where Phil did self employed contracting work.” We lived in a small flat there and had grown out of it,” Phil remembered. “Our two boys were growing up and we decided to do something. We took a punt on Kilsham, and somehow it came off.”

They are on a 15 year farm business tenancy, which is a longer term compared to some other tenancies. The previous tenant, Graham Anstey, ran a small dairy herd and arable operation on the farm, but reached the point where he needed some help. So he called in G. Chandler and Son, the local contractors. Soon afterwards, though, Mr Anstey died, and Leconfield Estates decided something had to be done with Kilsham Farm. Luckily, Liz and Phil’s plan to run it as a mixed family farm proved to be what the landlord wanted.

“The house was not derelict, but it had to be brought up to twenty first century standards,” said Phil. “The arable land was in good shape, but there wasn’t a fence in sight on the permanent pasture or water meadows. They were overgrown, too, so there was a lot of work to bring the boundaries back. That work is on going: you can’t do it in one go because there is a lot of time and cost involved, so we try to do a certain amount each year.”

Phil and Liz do all the fencing and reclaiming the boundaries by hand, with some help from a friend who drives a digger. Kilsham Farm does not have a lot of machinery, but Phil’s father Luigi shares his, and contractors ACS run by Tristan Parks are used for work such as combining.

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