Social farming ourselves fit. We posted a blog recently on exercise. Exercise is good for all of us, not just in terms of our physical health but also our emotional health. Today, we are going to focus on social farming. We’ll explain what it is, what it can do for your health and how you can get involved if you would like to do so.
Social Farming Across Borders
Social Farming Across Borders is relatively new to Ireland. However, it has been in action in the UK and across mainland Europe for a few years now. It has recently started up in Ireland with a few farms around the country opening their doors to visitors. Although farming has its tough times, it can be a very fulfilling career path with many other advantages too.
Larry Masterson, together with his wife and son, have opened up Blissberry Farm in Co. Donegal as a social farm. Larry worked in the health services for many years and purchased a mixed organic farm when he took early retirement. Visitors can go along once or twice a week to work and help out on the farm. From growing their own vegetables, meeting other like-minded people, tend to sheep and poultry, pick berries, make jam, tend to the bees. It really is all about getting back to the basics and working the land.
What has worked particularly well is that young adults and teenagers with mental health issues have had a new lease of life and doctors are now recommending that people visit social farms before they prescribe pills. They aren’t just for those with difficulties, the social farm is open to everyone of all ages. Absolutely everyone is welcome, no matter what their skillset is and a wonderful camaraderie is evident.
Reaping the rewards
The farmer is rewarded for providing his service and the visitors feel part of something, as well as the fact that their mental and physical health is improving. Many elderly farmers are isolated and are struggling to cope with the workload, they may not have a successor and do not want to sell the farm. Social farming could be the answer to their problems in terms of providing labour and providing company. They really are a win-win situation.
If you would like to participate in one or find out more, the Social Farming Across Borders website has contact information. If you would like to visit Larry Masterson’s farm, you will find the details here. There’s lots going on – from making elderflower cordial, jams and wines, to going for gentle walks, enjoying bird and animal watching, carting hay, grooming horses and helping out at lambing time. If you have always wanted to farm and never had the opportunity, this is your chance to get involved. Do let us know how you get on.
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