Getting a #socent off the ground #SocialFarming has great potential . . .

Social Farming’ (also called ‘Care Farming’ in the UK) has strong ‘innovation & on farm diversification’ potential which combats #social inclusion #poverty #isolation #mentalhealth & #educational issues #life skills and much more.

This innovative widely adopted growing movement in Europe which has a strong presence here in Ireland and UK on family farms (like @blissberryfarm Mountcharles Donegal) provides services to those who are isolated within their own communities – is at the core of SOCIAL FARMING – which gives various vulnerable groups including those with disabilities, mental health, people with addictions, prisoners, older people, people with acquired brain injuries and people with physical and sensory challenges the opportunity to benefit from working with animals, plants and nature within their own community.

Social Farming going forward . . .

@blissberryfarm Winner of JFC Innovation Rural Service Award 2014 http://t.co/YzsOVlV8d1 http://t.co/1HullkhgAy

Social Farming Across Borders @Lairdhse06 @blissberryfarm http://t.co/pH6EYJRczF

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“Care Farming UK – defining the offer”

The enclosed below is taken from the Natural England Commissioned Report NECR155 – 19 Aug 2014

TITLED
“Care farming: Defining the ‘offer’ in England”:

http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/Images/care%20farming-facts-figures_tcm6-35863.pdf

Summary

Care farms provide health, social and educational care services through supervised, structured programmes of farming-related activities for a wide range of people, including those with learning disabilities, people with autism spectrum disorders, those with a drug history, people on probation, young people at risk and older people. There are around 230 care farms in the UK. Care Farming UK and government need to develop an integrated approach to drive up the scale and quality of service provision and better targeting of those users with the greatest need. Networks of care farm practitioners need to be strengthened where they exist, and established where they don’t. There is an urgent need to work with health and social care, education and probation commissioning agencies to raise their awareness of care farming services.

Background

Natural England engaged Care Farming UK to undertake a review of the care farming sector to better define the full range of health and education services provided by the sector. The findings from this collaborative project with Care Farming UK, the University of Essex and the University of Leeds, will be used to inform work underway to drive up standards and to increase the scale and coherence of service provision, thereby improving the ‘offer’ care farming can make to the relevant health, probation and education commissioning bodies.

Care farming is a commitment within the Natural Environment White Paper through the Higher Level Stewardship Educational Access option.

In the UK there are approximately 230 care farms. Care farms provide health, social and educational care services through supervised, structured programmes of farming-related activities for a wide range of people, including those with learning disabilities, people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), those with a drug history, people on probation, young people at risk and older people, as well as those suffering from the effects of work-related stress or ill-health or mental health issues.

All care farms offer some elements of farming (involving crops, horticulture, livestock husbandry, use of machinery or woodland management etc.); but there is much variety.

A care farm is defined as: ‘A care farm utilises the whole or part of a farm to provide health, social or educational care services for one or a range of vulnerable groups of people, providing a supervised, structured programme of farming-related activities, rather than occasional one-off visits’;

And an occasional care farm as: ‘farms or nature reserves providing care farm services on an occasional basis’.

Key findings

Care farms in England cater for a wide range of vulnerable groups, but the majority of farms provide services for people with learning difficulties (93%), autism spectrum disorders (ASD) (84%), mental ill-health (75%) and young people at risk (64%). Most care farms in England are providing care farming services for at least five or more different participant groups.
The majority of care farms (90%) reported that they provide social care outcomes for their clients, followed by educational (83%) and health care (80%) outcomes, with most care farms (66%) delivering all three types of outcome.
Most care farms (82%) provide sessions lasting a full day, approximately half also provide sessions lasting half a day and a third provide a mixture of both. The average care farm provides 5 sessions a week, suggesting that most care farms are offering a day session, five days a week.
The average number of clients at each care farm per week is 34, although it ranges from 1 to a maximum of 300. Most clients (90%) attend care farms between 1 and 3 times a week. On average care farm programmes last for 30 weeks. Care farmers in this survey stressed that the length of time a client attends a care farm is designed to meet the needs of the client.
Costs for attending a care farm vary depending on the client’s needs and types of services provided, but the mean cost per session for an unsupported client is £48 and for an accompanied client is £47 per session. The majority of care farms include group supervision, drinks and snacks, personal protective equipment and structured activities in the charge and a small proportion of care farms also include meals, qualifications and transport.
The majority of care farms (76%) are not currently running at full capacity. The current operating capacity of care farms varies but the mean operating capacity is 58%.
91% of care farms said that they would be able to offer more sessions if they had additional resources, i.e. financial resources, extra staff and additional land or buildings.
Funding was identified as the most significant challenge facing care farmers, in addition to securing contracts and recognition of the value of care farms and care farming services.

Recommendations

Care Farming UK in partnership with the Department of Health, Public Health England, DEFRA, Natural England, the Department of Education and the Ministry of Justice need to develop an integrated, strategic approach to care farming to help drive up the scale and quality of service provision and better targeting those users with the greatest need.
Networks of care farm practitioners need to be strengthened where they exist, and established where they don’t.
Whilst there are many different commissioning organisations that currently refer clients to care farms in England, there are likely to be others who are unaware of the potential of care farming.
There is an urgent need to work with health and social care, education and probation commissioning agencies to raise their awareness of care farming services.
Referral to care farms should be incorporated into health and social care referral systems. o With the introduction of personal health budgets there is an urgent need for greater support for individuals in receipt of direct payments to better understand the benefits of and secure access to green care treatments.
There is a need for better quality evaluation to provide information and evidence on care farming service performance in improving health and social outcomes for clients.
Future studies should incorporate standardised validated measures of client outcomes (such as wellbeing, quality of life, self-efficacy, general health etc) to highlight effectiveness and to allow comparison of care farming with other options.
Closer contact with other countries where the care farming sector is more established, would be helpful.

Source: From Natural England Commissioned Report NECR155, “Care farming: Defining the ‘offer’ in England”

Down in the Woods today @BlissberryFarm

Ecotherapy (our Green Gym Thursday Volunteer Group) a natural, free and accessible treatment that boosts our mental wellbeing @BlissberryFarm

Participants comments today …

“Blissberry woodland keeps us all physically and mentally fit together.”

“The fresh air knocks us all out, I have problems sleeping at night but not when I’m down @blissberryfarm when that night I sleep like a log!”

Sweet dreams . . .

See you next Thursday if not before!!!!

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Hungry for some fresh, local ideas & food? @DonegalLEO @DonegalETB @Donegal_food @VillageTav

Why not let Donegal schools be ahead of the curve on school-lunches (with a strong commitment to fresh and #local food) and play it’s part with future #schoolgardens.

Let’s have a round table discussion sooner than later. We believe we owe it to our young people and our communities more than ever.

Lets seriously put Donegal on the map for local food and work together for the better of all.

Draft PROPOSAL
Donegal Local Enterprise Office; Donegal ETB; Donegal Food Coast; Master Chef Enda O’Rourke (Donegal’s Food ‘Entrepreneur’) and others (e.g Health Promotion HSE & Schools & Colleges) discuss the possibilities of a ‘Farm to School’ programme in Donegal collaboratively in which all partners work towards implementing healthy, nutritious school meals incorporating local food products and school gardens as well as lessons in health, nutrition, food and agriculture.

Activities could include school gardens, student field trips to farms, farmer visits to schools, farm to school concepts integrated into school curriculum and cafeteria food coaches encouraging young people to eat healthy and local foods!

Interested in finding out more about this exciting workable partnership possibility with @mccrudenj1 and @blissberryfarm contact Larry Masterson
– email blissberrysocialfarm@gmail.com

More than vegetables growing at Blissberry Farm Mountcharles 

Healthy Community Gardens can make significant contributions to the health of the earth and to the enrichment of our communities.

Today I believe healthy gardening programmes like the one here at Blissberry Social Farm with Joanne Butler @OURganicG is a small but serious challenge to many current policies and practices which put profit before human needs—greenery, open space, fresh food.

But you’ll find far more than just a place to grow some seasonal food. 

Vegetable gardening is a proactive PRACTICE.

I like to emphasize that word PRACTICE – the same one used to describe the practice of meditation. Gardening is stress relief, fresh air, exercise, and interconnection with the natural world. Vegetable gardening brings forth productivity. It is a way of being actively engaged in solutions to major world problems. 

  Vegetable gardening – particularly when done together as a community – can be tremendously healing, particularly in these turbulent times.

  

Blissberry Healthy Gardening Programme Mountcharles

Going green @blissberryfarm may have a big impact on your well-being.
#socialfarming #mentalhealth #healthyeating #communitygardening

Our Healthy Gardening Programme like the one here at Blissberry Social Farm can provide a variety of social and nutritional benefits to local communities.

Participants at this years Healthy Gardening Programme “Seed to Plate” found access to green spaces such as our vegetable plots and the countryside had lowered their levels of stress and turned a higher-level of work and life satisfaction.

@Blissberryfarm we believe that these kinds of comparisons are important for health service policymakers when trying to decide how to invest scarce financial resources defiantly outdoors in a green environment a win win for everyone.

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Locally Grown Food / Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). #LocalProduce #CommunityFood #GIY #CountryMarkets

Locally Grown Food / Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).

Eating locally grown foods has an impact far beyond the relatively little money you pay for it.

It’s an important step for the environment since it reduces the energy needed to grow the food and get it to you. It’s good for local farmers, because it helps them stay in business and thrive.

It’s also good for you spiritually. It feels good to take a step that so clearly helps both local people and the earth. It feels good knowing that your seasonal food is fresh and was brought straight from the farm to the table.

CSA began in Japan in the seventies by women who were concerned about the poisoning of their food by Mercury in the water and soil. Although there are many ways to develop a CSA in essence CSA is a business transaction where a farm produces food and the community pays the farmer. The community will be involved in collective ownership of the process of producing the food. The extent of community involvement in the process will be decided collectively by the stakeholders (community and farmer).

There are many different ways that a community can go about CSA and there is no wrong or right way to go about it.

Effectively it is all about what suits the community and the farmer.

Within CSA methods of food production can be; consumer/producer driven, organic or non organic, can grow; seasonal vegetables/full diet/ single staple crop/single luxury crop. The length of the agreement (between the farmer and the community) can be for one season/a full year/ one harvest/ monthly/ multi annual. Payment can be in the form of; a full payment at the beginning of the season (better for the farmer as most of the cost is at the beginning of the season), a monthly payment, capital investment or contribution of labour.

Benefits of CSA are empowerment of communities and farmers, risk sharing and diversity in farming as opposed to the farmer shouldering serious financial burden and the risk of supplying single crops to large chains.

CSA’s can experience difficulties in managing cash flow with so many ways of payment and satisfying a whole community’s needs and wants. Possible problems with CSA’s can be deficiencies in the soil of the area where a CSA is set up, contamination issues (e.g. mad cow disease) can wipe out a whole CSA and environmental damage (floods, drought, pests).

To be continued . . .

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