In total, €804,825 in funding has been awarded by the Department of Agriculture to initiatives to promote and develop social farming projects in rural areas.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, announced the projects that have received funding this year under the CEDRA (The Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas) Rural Innovation and Development Fund.

“I am very pleased to support a number of initiatives which will promote and develop the practice of social farming across rural Ireland.

Social farming allows people, who are availing of a range of health service supports, the opportunity to participate in farming activities in their local area.

“I know that working on farming and horticulture projects has helped many participants to improve their well-being and grow their confidence.

“For participating farm families, social farming has proved a very worthwhile and satisfying activity which contributes to the local community,” Minister Creed said.

Social farming is the practice of offering, on a voluntary basis, farming and horticultural participation in a farming environment as a choice to people who avail of a range of therapeutic day support services.

A total of €1.5m in funding was allocated to the CEDRA Rural Innovation and Development Fund in 2016 by the Department covering the themes of rural female entrepreneurship, agri-food tourism and social farming.

Minister Creed hopes that the Department’s funding of social farming projects and the establishment of a Social Farming Network will be of real benefit to local rural communities.

Projects Awarded Funding

The Minister has awarded funding of €542,325 to two social farming projects as part of a competitive tender process under the CEDRA scheme.

The first project contract was awarded to the Leitrim Development Company to design, develop and implement a Social Farming Network across Ireland with funding of €400,000.

The second project was awarded to South Kerry Development Partnership with funding of €142,325 for the provision of a Social Farming Model Project with national benefits.

Meanwhile, two additional social farming project proposals were awarded part-funding of €250,000.

The Cork Branch of Down Syndrome Ireland was awarded funding of €137,000 to develop a horticultural centre for adults with Down Syndrome.

Funding of €113,000 was awarded to Leitrim Development Company, in collaboration with University College Dublin, to establish a social farming best practice project for both local and national audiences.

The Department also provided sponsorship of €12,500 to Barry Kavanagh, who is supported by Social Farming Across Boundaries Ltd, for his award-winning social farming garden at Bloom 2016.

Kavangh’s garden helped to raise awareness and promote the concept of social farming.