A new handbook on social farming launched by Ministers Simon Coveney and Ann Phelan, aims to improve health and support farm diversification.

The Social Farming handbook is aimed at developing linkages between the agriculture and health care sectors and promotes the idea of using farming and horticulture to involve health service users in a family farm environment.

Speaking at the launch Minister Coveney welcomed representatives of Irish agri-food business and stated he wholeheartedly support this initiative which resonates so well with the rural community.

“I would urge all Irish agri-food business, from our world leaders in the food business to smaller local operators, to get involved in this very worthwhile initiative. I believe that such inclusiveness in our businesses and community can benefit everyone, and that all involved can learn from each other. I also believe that this could contribute towards businesses corporate social sustainability obligations under Origin Green”

Minster Phelan referred to her role of implementing the CEDRA report and that social farming would be a joint Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine – CEDRA initiative. She also stated that Social farming is the type of cross government integrated thinking which is recommended by the CEDRA report.

“Myself, Minister Coveney and Minister of State for Health Kathleen Lynch have been working with the Social Farming across Borders (SoFAB) project to publicise these initiatives which provide opportunities for inclusion and reconnection between farmers, their community and disadvantaged groups, increase self-esteem and improve health and wellbeing.”

The Social Farming Handbook is a product of the SoFAB Project and it aims to assist providers and users of social farming services to understand what is involved in establishing, managing and using social farming services and shares lessons gained through the experience of a pilot social farming scheme on 20 farms over a fifteen month period.