Following a competitive public procurement procedure under the 2021 Rural Innovation and Development Fund, the Minister for Agriculture, Food & the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D. announced the successful tenderers that will receive funding totalling almost €377,000 for social farming model projects:
- Leitrim Integrated Development Company CLG – for the provision of a Social Farming Model Project where social farming is mainstreamed as an option for people accessing supports across a range of sectors and services and where placements are fully commissioned.
- Down Syndrome Irl (Cork Branch) – to provide opportunities for participation in a purpose-built farm, the Field of Dreams with horticulture and animal care elements which will bring long lasting wellness benefits to participants.
- South Kerry Development Partnership – for a Social Farming Model Project which will increase participant and host farmers engagement so that the social farming opportunity is available to more people in Kerry and to offer choice to people with disabilities to engage with farm families in meeting their personal life choices.
- IRD Duhallow – for a Social Farming model project which will promote rehabilitation, social inclusion, training and improved quality of life in a non-clinical setting using agriculture including plants and animals for people across a wide spectrum of disability.
Minister McConalogue stated, “I am delighted that my Department can continue to provide support for social farming across rural Ireland. This very worthwhile initiative provides a significant service throughout rural communities for disadvantaged groups who are availing of a range of health service supports. It provides participants with the opportunity to improve their health and wellbeing and grow their confidence by doing ordinary farm activities. It also helps service providers to meet the development and progression goals of clients in a very enjoyable way. When operating from a working family farm, these initiatives support farm diversification and help farmers connect with the wider community”.
In addition to the model projects, the contract with Leitrim Integrated Development Company CLG for the provision of a Social Farming Network is also been extended for a further year. The extension of this contract with associated funding of €400,000 will allow for the further development of the national social farming network known as “Social Farming Ireland”. Social Farming Ireland works in collaboration with other Local Development Companies, namely West Limerick Resources, Waterford Leader Partnership and South West Mayo Development Company where regional Social Farming development officers are based.
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. These operations are run in a number of settings ranging from working family farms, local community initiatives through to more institutional frameworks. The successful service providers have been identified as having the vision and capability to develop substantial social farming model projects.