Social Farming Open Day in Ballybunion

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Kerry Social Farming was delighted to host an important Social Farming information day in North Kerry on Friday 26th october. The showcase event took place on Rena Blake’s farm just outside Ballybunion. The aim of the event is to showcase the extraordinary development of social farming in Kerry over the last few years. Senior officials from the Department of Rural and Community Development joined senior staff from KCC, NEWKD, SKPD, 100 invited guests, exiting host farmers, participants and their families to celebrate the success of the initiative. The event comprised a guided farm walk followed by lunch and a number of short presentations from the Chairman of Kerry Social Farming, participants, host farmer and CEO of local partnership company. The dual aim of the event is to promote the initiative to new and potential host farmers and to impress on the Department officials the importance and value of social farming to all concerned.

The aim of the Kerry Social Farming Project is to give adults with disabilities the opportunity to engage with farm families, thus facilitating social inclusion in the rural community, provide new opportunities and meet their personal life choices. In this way Kerry Social Farming is informed and directed by current Irish policies on the inclusion,
participation and engagement of people who avail of on-going health and social support services. Uniquely, the social farming model in Kerry is underpinned by a voluntary ethos whereby host farmers generously offer their time voluntarily to support participants engage in farming activities and the community, thus enhancing real relationships and the sustainability of the project.

Kerry Social Farming has grown consistently over the last few years. In Co. Kerry, there are now 19 farms supporting 32 people to engage in social farming. It might be only a few hours every week, but for some it is the absolute highlight of their week. The farmers give their time voluntarily, supporting real social inclusion and friendships for participants. The work is supported by a plethora of fantastic community groups and agencies.

The success of the project has now led to calls for Social Farming to be put on a more permanent funding. Chairman George Kelly says ‘social farming is too important an initiative to be continually worrying about securing funding in order to survive, There is now a real need for Government to recognise the importance and success of social farming to both participants and the wider community and to invest in providing secure multi-annual funding. This would provide the confidence required to build social farming into the fabric of rural Ireland and cement its rightful place at the heart of rural communities across the country’.

Pictured: Conall Galvin and Cllr. Aoife Thornton from Listowel at the Open Day.