Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed announced the projects that have received funding this year under the CEDRA Rural Innovation and Development Fund.

“Social farming allows people who are availing of a range of health service supports the opportunity to participate in farming activities in their local area,” he said.

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.

“I know that working on farming and horticulture projects has helped many participants to improve their wellbeing and grow their confidence. For participating farm families, social farming has proved a very worthwhile and satisfying activity which contributes to the local community,” Minister Creed added.

National benefits

Under the CEDRA Rural Innovation and Development Fund, €1.5m was allocated in 2016 covering the themes of rural female entrepreneurship, agri-food tourism and social farming.

Two social farming projects were awarded €542,325 as part of a competitive tender process under the fund.

The first project contract was awarded to the Leitrim Development Company to design, develop and implement a social farming network across Ireland with funding of €400,000.

The second project was awarded to South Kerry Development Partnership with funding of €142,325 for the provision of a social farming model project with national benefits.

Horticultural centre

Meanwhile, two additional social farming project proposals were awarded part-funding of €250,000.

Funding of €137,000 was awarded to the Cork branch of Down Syndrome Ireland to develop a horticultural centre for adults with Down’s syndrome.

Leitrim Development Company, in collaboration with University College Dublin, was awarded €113,000 to establish a social farming best practice project for both local and national audiences.

The Department also provided sponsorship of €12,500 to Barry Kavanagh, who is supported by Social Farming Across Boundaries Ltd, for his award-winning social farming garden at Bloom 2016, which helped to raise awareness and promote the concept of social farming.

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Listen: Barry Kavanagh on social farming at Bloom