Social farming today (sometimes called ‘Green care in agriculture’, ‘farming for health’ or ‘care farming’) is defined as the use of farms and agricultural landscapes as a base for promoting mental and physical health.
Simply put Social Farming describes a range of therapeutic, farm based activities which help deliver a positive rural experience. Farm based activities vary but might include collecting eggs, feeding and watering livestock, mucking out, tending to crops in a raised bed or Polytunnel, mending fences or simply participating in a guided nature walk.
Social Farming helps develop the potential in people by looking at what they can achieve rather than what their disability or illness might restrict them to.
Activities not only build practical skills but also help people gain confidence, develop social skills and foster a sense of achievement as well as making a connection with nature.
No two Social Farms are the same.
Each Social Farm is different not only in size and what is offered but also in the groups or individuals they cater for.
For example, activities may be aimed at those experiencing a range of mental health issues such as depression or stress; people recovering from drug or alcohol abuse or perhaps adults and young people with physical disabilities.
Each Social Farm has the ability to offer a personalised service dependent upon the nature of the farm and the level of independence and confidence of the participants.
Social Farms like Blissberry helps people to reconnect with the land and nature and their communities which in turn offers them a pathway towards recovery, progression and social inclusion.
Social Farms also offer on a ‘working farm’ the opportunity to develop a wide range of ‘green’ technical and life skills which can improve life and possible positive pathways to a better quality of life.
Three fundamental ingredients make social farming so successful: the connection with the land and 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 into the wider world is often challenging, but knowing that they are going to spend a day working in the natural environment on a working farm with people who understand their difficulties can significantly support their healing process.
Participants on the social farm do not feel they are ‘in therapy’ but rather they are simply making friends and doing something useful for society in the form of providing care for animals, the environment and providing healthy, nutritious food.