During 2016, the Social Farming Support Service (SFSS) within Rural Support demonstrated its ability to coordinate Social Farming activity and promote the development of the concept in Northern Ireland. During the months from March to May 2016, a Social Farming taster sessions project was delivered as a result of funding awarded by the Public Health Agency (PHA). In this role, the Social Farming Service Coordinator liaised with the funding and referral agencies and the farms providing the service to ensure that the service users and farmers were supported during the period of the sessions.
A taster session was termed such as it offered an opportunity for service users who had not previously engaged with Social Farming to do so. The Social Farming taster sessions were delivered on 8 farms across the 5 Health and Social Care Trusts in Northern Ireland to 29 service users, totalling 148 engagements. Research was conducted on the taster sessions with a focus on calculating the unit cost of Social Farming activities, evaluating the experience for the participants and the farmers, and making recommendations for further provision. The full research report and research brief are available in the links below and also in the ‘Resource Centre’ area within the ‘How We Can Help’ section of the website.
Rural Support wish to acknowledge the work of Suzanne Johnston in conducting the research on the project and the funding provided by the PHA to facilitate the taster sessions.