Social farming gets €700,000 funding boost for 2018

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine will continue to fund the Social Farming Model project with support totalling €712,515 under the 2018 Rural Innovation and Development Fund, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has said.

Making the announcement yesterday (Sunday, September 16), Minister Creed said: “I am very pleased to continue with our support for social farming model projects and network.

“This important initiative helps to provide a significant service throughout rural communities for disadvantaged groups, who are availing of a range of health service supports,” he said.

The minister announced the extensions of the Social Farming Model contracts to the Leitrim Integrated Development Company, the South Kerry Development Partnership and to Down Syndrome Ireland (Cork Branch).

This will “enable these organisations to continue and expand the work they have already started in this area”, he added.

Leitrim Development Company has also been awarded an extension to its contract for the design, development and implementation of a Social Farming Network across Ireland.

Breakdown of funding

The extension of the Social Farming Network Project with associated funding of €350,000 will allow Leitrim Development Company to continue to develop the network of social farming in Ireland in conjunction with the regional hubs.

It will also allow the company to progress towards sustainable commissioning arrangements for the provision of Social Farming placements, according to the department.

Leitrim Development Company was also provided with €121,000 for the continuation of the delivery of evidence-based learning, best practice and policy recommendations – which should contribute to the promotion and development of social farming in Ireland.

Funding of €118,515 is being provided to Down Syndrome Ireland (Cork Branch) for the “Field of Dreams”, a horticulture centre for adults with Down Syndrome.

This will enable them to participate in meaningful training and to provide “hands-on” horticulture work opportunities in a secure, caring and inspirational environment, the department says.

Funding of €123,000 is being provided to South Kerry Development Partnership to continue to offer a choice to people with disabilities to engage with farm families and the community in meeting their personal development goals.

Commenting on the Social Farming initiative, Minister Creed added: “Not only does it assist in the promotion and development of the practice of social farming but it connects social farmers, organisations and service providers who provide support to the many participants that take part to improve their well-being and grow their confidence.

“The continued support by my department is central to upholding the operation and continuity of the project, especially given the commitment from farmers and service providers in the development and roll-out of this initiative in rural communities throughout Ireland.”