IRELAND'S Social Farming Network project was launched in Leitrim this week by Minister Michael Creed.Â
Â Speaking at Loch AedÃn Social Farm, the minister said that the concept of social farming â giving people, who are availing of a range of health service supports, the opportunity to participate in farming or horticulture activities in their local area â fosters inclusion. Â âIt helps participants to build self-esteem, confidence and improve their health and well-being,' he said.
âFor participating farm families and local communities, social farming has proved a very worthwhile and satisfying activity which contributes to community development. For these reasons, I want to ensure that this concept is developed and encouraged through the Social Farming Network.'
Â The Minister also said that the ambition is to grow a network for social farming for Ireland, with its national support office based in Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim, co-ordinating four regional hubs, which will assist with the promotion and delivery of social farming in Ireland in support of both participants and farmers.
Â The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine provided initial funding of â¬400,000 last year for the establishment of the social farming network across Ireland and has recently extended the contract for a further 12-month period. Minister Creed said he was delighted to announce continued support for the Network in 2017, with funding of â¬350,000 that will ensure progression for the project as it beds down and becomes self-sustaining.
Â The Department will provide funding totalling â¬720,000 in 2017 for a range of social farming initiatives.
Â The Minister also announced funding of â¬130,000 under the Rural Innovation and Development Fund for pilot projects aimed at reducing food waste generated by food businesses in rural areas. Â
Further details from www.agriculture.gov.ie/agri-foodindustry/agri-foodandtheeconomy/cedraschemes/foodwastereduction.