Environment at heart of Social Farming in Mountcharles
Once the Japanese visionary and environmentalist Masanobu Fukuoka stated that “the ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings”. This sentiment today is at the heart of social farming at Blissberry Mountcharles which aims to combine care and meaningful work in the supportive natural environment of our farm, the apiary in association with South Donegal Beekeepers, our woodlands and our healthy garden programme. Social farming ‘on working farm activities’ provides a healthy daily structure for the participants, building confidence and supporting people to develop their social and practical skills. At Blissberry Farm we belief a number of fundamental ingredients make social farming successful: the connection with Nature, the connection with other people and the connection with meaningful work and a healthy daily structure. People experiencing mental health issues or depression find themselves with negative thought spirals that engender low confidence and low self-esteem. Stepping out of their front door at home in the morning into the wider world is often challenging, but knowing that they are going to spend a day working in the natural environment with people who understand their difficulties can significantly support their healing process. Participants do not feel they are ‘in therapy’ but rather they are simply making friends and doing something useful for the community in the form of providing healthy, nutritious food, a safe and healthy woodland for reflecting and practicing Mindfulness and Ecothearpy, and learning new skills in looking after farm animals while making new friends.