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Department announces continued support for Social Farming under the Rural Innovation and Development Fund (RIDF) in 2020

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, announced the projects that will receive support this year under the Department’s Rural Innovation and Development Fund for initiatives to promote and develop social farming projects in rural areas.


Following a competitive public procurement procedure for a Social Farming Network, a contract has been awarded to Leitrim Integrated Development Company CLG to continue to develop the national Social Farming Network known as “Social Farming Ireland” with funding of €400,000.


In addition to the Social Farming Network, the following contracts have been extended for a period of one year with associated funding of almost €360,000:


  • South Kerry Development Partnership for the ‘Kerry Social Farming Project’ – to continue to offer a choice to people with disabilities to engage with farm families and the community in meeting their personal development goals.
  • Leitrim Development Company for development of a ‘Social Farming Best Practice Model’ – to continue the delivery of evidence-based learning, best practice and policy recommendations which will contribute to the promotion and development of social farming in Ireland.
  • Down Syndrome Ireland Cork Branch for the ‘Fields of Dreams’ project - a horticulture centre for adults with Down Syndrome to enable them to participate in meaningful training and to provide “hands-on” horticulture work opportunities in a secure, caring and inspirational environment.



Editor Notes:


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. The farm is not a specialised treatment farm; rather it remains a typical working farm where people in need of support can build relationships and take part in day-to-day farm activities in a non-clinical environment and can be used as a form of social support.  These operations are run in a number of settings ranging from working family farms, local community initiatives through to more institutional frameworks.


Participation in social farming has been shown to provide benefits to participants such as improved community connections and relationships, increased self-esteem and capacity, improved health and well-being and the opportunity to develop occupational and life skills from engaging in farm-based activities.


From a low base, predominately in the border counties of the Republic, Social Farming activity in Ireland has grown rapidly in the last two years. Social Farming Ireland led by Leitrim Development Company provides a wide range of services and initiatives which support the development of social farming nationally including dissemination of information, farmer engagement / recruitment, training and development, working with health, social care and other services to activate social farming placements.


The range of services with whom Social Farming Ireland is working is growing and through the work of the Network over the past number of years even more “new” sectors such as youth, education, homelessness services, services for refugees and eldercare services have continued to emerge.



Date Released: 27 August 2020