Social Farming Ireland

Improvement of services / infrastructures

The project originated in an all-Ireland cross border pilot project Social Farming across Borders (SOFAB, 2011 -2014) funded by Interreg IVA, whose aims was to draw on the Social Farming model being practiced in other EU states and apply it to an Irish context. Participants choose to do so and actively participate in the planning of their placement. Research studies outcomes of the programmes highlight a wide range of benefits including improved mental and physical well-being, new occupational skills development and improved social and interpersonal skills. Social Farming Ireland acts as fulcrum for social farming activities. It enlists farmers in the process and supports the social farming concept nationally through networking events and establishment of social farming hubs. Its structure comprises a National Advisory Committee that acts as a forum for all the above actors and develops policies based on research of outcomes nationally and in other EU states and a National Coordination Committee comprising the management team and that plans and directs the work of the social farming hubs. Farmers can use social farming to augment their income leveraging on the skills and assets associated with their holding and their connection to the local community. Apart from added income, reported benefits include increases sense of personal fulfilment, the development of new friendships and connections, reduced isolation and a broader perspective on the role of the farm in community life. Health and Social Care Providers advise potential participants of the opportunity and work with farmers to develop meaningful choices for the people who use their services. They find that social farming adds value to their own therapeutic or occupational service provision and provides a valuable option in their user-determined plans and budgets. Social Farming Hubs are based at four local development companies spread throughout Ireland (Leitrim, Waterford, Mayo and Limerick). Each has a Regional Development Officer whose role is to support farmers and local networks in creating best practice and procedures for social farming. University College Dublin acts as policy advisor and researcher to the network.

Development Companies, Social Innovation Fund, CEDRA, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, farmers, health and social care providers

To date, Social Farming Ireland has delivered over 6,300 placement days to approximately 790 participants on 77 social farms throughout the country

* Information at the level of NUTS 3 or local regions.