Under The Spotlight

GROWING CONNECTIONS, CHANGING LIVES Insights and Learning From Social Farming Across Ireland
A National Conference on Social Farming took place in the Emmaus Centre in Swords Co. Dublin last Friday, the 23rd of March. 140 attendees from all over Ireland learnt more about the development of s
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Network Briefing Details

Creating the Social Farming Across Borders Network

The SoFAB Project aims to facilitate the establishment of a cross border, cross sector network. The purpose of the network is to essentially develop a network of service providers, people who use services and farmers of Social Farming. The network could play a pivotal role in bringing Social Farming into mainstream public policy consideration and collaboration, across a number of sectors, with a view to improving people’s lives within the Region.

The profile of the network will include representatives from the various stakeholders from within the Region which covers the six border counties of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The SoFAB project especially welcomes representation from;

  • The farming sector and farm families
  • Potential service users such as; groups or individuals who represent people with mental or physical health issues, with learning difficulties, in need of rehabilitation or older people.
  • Advocatesof the above groups
  • Care Providers for the above groups
  • Potential Service users

Key functions of the Network 

  • Information sharing on best practice of Social Farming within the Region and between other jurisdictions.
  • Act as a platform for engaging in public policy debate in agriculture and rural development and provision of care services.
  • Guide and contribute to the development of the 20 farm based pilots
  • Representation on the SoFAB Project Advisory Panel (PAC)
  • Attend public events, such as Agricultural Shows and conferences to enhance public awareness.
  • Engage with Social and Care Farming networks in UK and EU member states

How might the Network Operate?

Network membership will be voluntary and will endeavour to represent the cross section of service users, farmers and providers within the region at a local and regional level.

Local network groups could form around appropriate geographical hubs, creating suitable group structures to enable communication flows across the region.

Local Network Groups could meet on a local and regional basis in a format and frequency decided by the network and network groups.

The network will be active through the combination of meetings and web-based interactions and will be facilitated by the Project staff.

Network representatives will carry out two site visits - one to Scotland/West Midlands and one to South East Ireland during the life of the Project up to September 2014.

With assistance from the Project Staff the network will also issue quarterly newsletters and publish recommendations for improved institutional arrangements to promote and enable cross-sectoral cooperation in Social Farming.

SoFAB is an EU INTERREG IVA funded cross border project, which includes the 6 border counties of Ireland; Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth as well as all 6 counties in Northern Ireland

Social Farming Across Borders (SoFAB) project runs until September 2014 and will raise the profile of social farming, as well as enhance the potential of Social Farming in the Region.

There are a number of keys ways the project will achieve this, they are;

  • Establish 20 on farm based pilot projects across the Region (12 Counties)
  • Provide training to farmers and health care professionals involved in the pilot
  • Share the learning through 2 conferences, the network and web site
  • Extend further training available for farmers and health and social care providers
  • Publish a guide book to assist establishment of a Social Farm partnerships.


Social, Health and Farming Benefits

Social Farming offers a person who uses health and social services the choice of participating in meaningful work in a family farm environment.

Social and health care providers have the opportunity to partner with farmers to provide further choice for people that they support, through the development of their person centred plans.

Farmers have the opportunity to diversify farming activities and augment their income through the development of offering social and health care provision, thus making greater use of their farming skills and farm.

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