SICAP Programme: A Social Farming Pilot with persons with intellectual disabilities

Social Farming is the practice of offering activity on family farms as a form of social support service.

In other words, a working farm offers a welcome to individuals from  a therapeutic setting and this participation in the working life of the farm day  provides an opportunity to increase their self esteem and improve health and well-being. On the side of the farmer, these initiatives support farm diversification and help farmers connect with the wider community. The farm is not a specialized treatment farm; rather it remains a normal working farm where people in need of support can benefit from participation in farm activities in a non- clinical environment.

In recognition of the potential of initiatives like this, over €804,000 in funding has been awarded by the Department of Agriculture to initiatives to promote and develop social farming projects in rural areas.

Carlow County Development Partnership recognizes that social farming has the potential to provide daily services to people with intellectual disabilities and to involve farm families in a creative response that benefits both sides.  We note a recent report which showed benefits for all sides, including the farm family itself who were more likely to work together on the days visitors were on the farm. “It enriches our lives and the children’s lives too,” one farmer said. “The children see them too, not as people with a disability, they see them as farmers.”

CCDP in wishing to support the development of social farming,  and allow people the opportunity to participate in farming activities in their local area, is working with Cairdeas and Beam to place 6 adults with intellectual disability on a working farm on Mondays and Wednesdays.  We will post some reports on how they are getting on and interviews with the participants themselves.