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18-year-old A level student and sheep farmer gains tenancy for Norfolk County Council farmland at Southery

By Julie Graham, Business Editor

An aspiration to run his own farm has just become a reality for 18-year-old Joe Rabicano who applied to become the tenant of land at Southery while he was still studying for his A levels.

Norfolk County Council confirmed today it had appointed Joe as the new tenant of a holding at Ashcroft Farm on its Southery estate and he will take over running the 42-acre site in October.

Joe was studying for his A levels when he made the application and is not from a farming background but was keen to pursue a career in agriculture. In fact two years ago he set up his own business with a small flock of sheep to rear and market, along with taking on contract grass cutting and paddock maintenance.

With no formal agricultural qualifications, Joe found paid and unpaid work with farmers to gain experience and practical skills. He plans to use the land to expand his existing sheep business and to diversify into arable and horticultural cropping.

Joe Rabicano, tenant farmer (11646152)
Joe Rabicano, tenant farmer (11646152)

For Joe, the news is still only really sinking in: “I am delighted to be selected as a new tenant, and I’m incredibly grateful to the County Farms team and selection panel. The application process was time consuming but worth it, and I would recommend anyone who is interested gives it a go, regardless of age.

“I look forward to working with the estate for many years to come and would like to thank my mentors for their continued support and advice.”

The county council has also announced tenants for two farms on the Mautby estate near Great Yarmouth. Potential tenants attended a farm viewing day and submitted a detailed business plan to cover the first three years of their proposed business. Shortlisted candidates were then interviewed by a panel consisting of officers, elected members and external experts.

Cllr Greg Peck, Norfolk County Council Cabinet Member for Commercial Services and Asset Management, said: “Congratulations to all the successful tenants, who all impressed with their applications. The new tenants have very different backgrounds and levels of experience, which shows that our County Farms estate presents opportunities for a wide range of people."


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