Home Latest News Launch of ‘Social Farming and Intellectual Disability Services’ by Minister Finian McGrath
Launch of ‘Social Farming and Intellectual Disability Services’ by Minister Finian McGrath Print

The ordinary Irish working farm is proving to be a place where people with intellectual disabilities are supported to grow and develop new interests and experiences, to be themselves, to contribute in a very real way to the life of the farm, to build friendships and natural community connections and to have a lot of fun too. This was the clear message from the launch of a new piece of Irish based research published by Social Farming Ireland and launched by Minister Finian McGrath T.D. on the farm of Anna and Oliver Dixon near Claremorris, Co. Mayo on the 23rd of July.

Over 200 people from around the country gathered in warm sunshine to hear from social farming participants, staff and management from intellectual disability services, parents and from Social Farming Ireland about the real value of social farming in enhancing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities.


Introducing the report, Social Farming Ireland Policy Officer, Dr Aisling Moroney focused on how Social Farming both reflects and helps drive forward policy and change in the intellectual disability sector. "The shift in policy and increasingly in practice is away from a more medical and segregated model of care to a more social model where people are instead supported and empowered to do what they want to do. We know that most people just want to contribute, to do ordinary things in ordinary places, to be independent, to make friends, to have fun, to have autonomy and to take risks." Dr Moroney concluded; "Social Farming provides an opportunity for people with an interest in farming or being out in nature to experience all of that in their own local communities and without having to build anything new or reinvent the wheel. Social Farming simply uses the assets of people, place, environment and community which are already embedded in Irish farming life in new ways to benefit both participants and farm families. "

Launching the report, Minster of State for Disability Issues Finian McGrath T.D. spoke of his long-standing and ongoing support for Social Farming as an initiative which celebrates ability rather than disability and where people can develop their potential and improve their physical and mental health. Minister McGrath commended all of the stakeholders who have worked to advance social farming opportunities for people with disabilities in Ireland - participants, farmers, services and Social Farming Ireland - and emphasised the need for people to continue to work together and with him as Minister to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

The report launched at this event is available here. Research and case studies from Social Farming Ireland are available here.

Social Farming provides a planned, outcome focused, support placement for people on a farm using the natural assets of the people, the place, the activities and the community to support a person to achieve some of their own chosen goals. It is fundamentally based on spending time with farmers and their families in the natural environment of the farm, enabling  valuable, meaningful activities and social and community connection.

A National Social Farming Office, funded by the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine (DAFM) through the CEDRA Fund, is based in Leitrim Development Company and supports the national development of social farming in collaboration with three partner organisations including  South West Mayo Development Company for the West Region of Mayo, Roscommon and Galway.

For anyone who wants to find out more about social farming, please contact Margaret Leahy on 087 623 3862 or mleahy@southmayo.com or the Balla office of South West Mayo Development Company on 094 936 6692.  You can also contact the National Project Co-ordinator Helen Doherty at the National Social Farming Office at 071 964 1772 or coordinator@socialfarmingireland.ie.



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