The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD has announced that his Department will continue to fund Social Farming in Ireland with support totalling €713,504 under the 2019 Rural Innovation and Development Fund.
Social farming is the practice of offering, on a voluntary basis, farming and horticultural participation in a farming environment as a choice to people who avail of a range of therapeutic day support services.
Minister Creed said, “I am very pleased to continue with our support for social farming model projects and network.
"This important initiative helps to provide a significant service throughout rural communities for disadvantaged groups, who are availing of a range of health service supports; not only does it assist in the promotion and development of the practice of social farming but it connects social farmers, organisations and service providers who provide support to the many participants that take part to improve their wellbeing and grow their confidence.
"Participation in social farming has been shown to provide benefits such as improved community connections and relationships, increased self-esteem and capacity, improved health and well-being and the opportunity to learn new skills.
"It provides participants with the opportunity to do ‘ordinary things in ordinary places’ and is wholly in line with shifts in Irish Government policy in health and social care and in labour activation towards a social model of disability, person-centred planning and community inclusion. The continued support by my Department is central to upholding the operation and continuity of the project, especially given the commitment from farmers and service providers in the development and roll-out of this initiative in rural communities throughout Ireland.”
The Minister announced the extensions of the Social Farming Model contracts to the Leitrim Integrated Development Company, the South Kerry Development Partnership and to Down Syndrome Ireland (Cork Branch) which will enable these organisations to continue and expand the work they have already started in this area. Leitrim Development Company has also been awarded an extension to their contract for the design, development and implementation of a Social Farming Network across Ireland.
The extension of the Social Farming Network Project with associated funding of €350,000 will allow Leitrim Development Company to continue to develop the network of social farming in Ireland in conjunction with the regional hubs and to progress towards sustainable commissioning arrangements for the provision of Social Farming placements.
Funding of €121,000 is also being provided to Leitrim Development Company for the continuation of the delivery of evidence based learning, best practice and policy recommendations which should contribute to the promotion and development of social farming in Ireland.
Meanwhile, funding of €119,504 is being provided to Down Syndrome Ireland (Cork Branch) for the “Field of Dreams”, a horticulture centre for adults with Down Syndrome to enable them to participate in meaningful training and to provide “hands-on” horticulture work opportunities in a secure, caring and inspirational environment.
Finally, funding of €123,000 is being provided to South Kerry Development Partnership to continue to offer a choice to people with disabilities to engage with farm families and the community in meeting their personal development goals.