Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has announced almost €377,000 for social farming model projects.
The successful tenders will receive funding under the 2021 Rural Innovation and Development Fund (RIDF).
The Leitrim Integrated Development Company CLG will receive funding 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 Ireland (Cork branch) will receive funding 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 will receive finance for a social farming model project, which will increase participant and host farmers engagement.
It will ensure that the social farming opportunity is available to more people in Kerry and will offer choice to people with disabilities to engage with farm families and in meeting their personal life choices.
Integrated Rural Development (IRD) Duhallow, Cork, will receive funding for a social farming model project which will promote rehabilitation, social inclusion and training by using agriculture.
It will improve the quality of life for people, in a non-clinical setting, through the use of plants and animals for people across a wide spectrum of disability.
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 operations are run in a number of settings, ranging from working family farms and 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.
Minister McConalogue commented: “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
“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," he added.
In addition to the model projects, the contract with Leitrim Integrated Development Company CLG for the provision of a social farming network has 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.