Social Farming fantastic garden theme . “I’ve been involved in social farming for a number of years. Essentially this is the practice of offering family farms as a form of social service. The farm is not a specialized treatment farm; rather the farm remains a typical working farm where people in need of support benefit from participation in the families daily life and farm activities in a non-clinical environment.
Social Farming creates the opportunity to reconnect farmers with their local communities through the opening up of their farms as part of the social support system of the community”.
Malachy Dolan who runs his social farm in Fermanagh explains “Across the island of Ireland, social farms can be found in every province offering support to a variety of people with individual needs from learning or physical needs to mental health support or addiction.
Social Farms are an alternative to existing social services and provide individuals with alternative choices and opportunities. It utilises the existing infrastructure of the typical family farm and shares environment in a safe and considered way with those who access day care”.
Social farming has countless appropriate benefits for service users including increased social interaction, physical exercise, learning new skills, developing independence. For the farming community too social farming is an excellent way of giving back, developing new skills and increased social interaction. However it is the testimonials of those service users that best explains what social farming really means.
“I was stuck at home, I didn’t have anyone my own age, any peers to converse with. Yeah I made lots of new friends; it does feel more like family, a tight-knit community” [Participant (MH), Co.Donegal]
“it gives me a lot of opportunity to help other people out and to be the proper man that I am” [participant l/id Co. Fermanagh]
“…before I went to the farm I was very in my shell…It’s got me out of my shell, I can chat to other people. The ability to have a laugh with people again, it was good craic,” [Participant (MH), Co. Derry].
“…I’d be more energetic, it’s something to get up for, it’s something to be living, to get up for on a day, coming here.” [Participant (MH), Co. Donegal]
“I just hope I continue with what I’m doing because I’m enjoying it. And I feel very proud of myself at what I do” [Participant (L/ID), Co. Cavan]
“During Bloom 2016, Social Farming Ireland will have a show garden where visitors will be able to view a condensed version of a social farm”, Larry continues. “We have award winning garden designer Barry Kavanagh and the acclaimed visual artist Gwen Wilkinson working on our project.
Our show garden is a representation of how the relatively new concept of Social Farming in Ireland can play a vital role in the personal development of people who avail of the health and social care services.
It represents the transitional experience from an enclosed, conventional building based type service to an open, naturalistic, farm- based developmental interaction. This is now a proven concept, with participants testifying to their positive sensory & social experiences as they engage with their transition, their environment and their community.
For more details please visit our stand at Bloom