Father and son set to take over council downland farm

David and Philip Fenner SUS-181112-113958001
David and Philip Fenner SUS-181112-113958001

Local farmer David Fenner and his son Philip are the new tenants of Black Robin Farm.

The Fenners are well known in Eastbourne having farmed neighbouring Bullock Down Farm for nearly 20 years. The father and son team submitted a tender to Eastbourne council following the retirement of Will Higgs, the previous farmer on Black Robin.

The council said the combination of David’s breadth of agricultural knowledge and commitment to conservation and Philip’s farming ambitions and ecology background proved decisive for the panel overseeing the selection process.

David and Philip will take over Black Robin Farm from January 2019. The duo said they want to engage the public in the running of the farm and will post regular updates on social media.

Philip said, “I hope by using social media we can provide people, especially locals, with an insight into life on a busy downland farm. No one day is ever the same so I’m sure it’ll be interesting. Above all I’m very excited to be working alongside my dad and grateful to have this wonderful opportunity. I can’t wait to get started in January.”

David’s life in farming started on a family farm on the Pevensey Levels, near Hailsham. After graduating from Plumpton College, he specialised in sheep management and following a role managing the college flock, successfully tendered for Bullock Down Farm in 2000.

He said, “When my wife Jane and I moved to Bullock Down I set about improving the farm and making the necessary investment in it. To this end I have worked closely with Natural England and gained higher level stewardship status. I’m looking forward to working with Philip and seeing how his thinking and ideas on land management can help us create a farm that’s both kind to nature and the environment, but also sustainable from a business perspective.”