President Michael D Higgins visits a Social Farm

A fantastic event was held this month to welcome President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina to An Tobar Community Wellness Centre and Social Farm in Silverbridge, South Armagh. Situated within the well-established horticulture business and farm of the Finnegan family, An Tobar was established as a social enterprise in April 2018 and is led by sisters Margaret and Kathleen and their father Pat.

Social Farming is an innovative use of agriculture to promote therapy, rehabilitation, social inclusion, education and social services in rural areas. The farm remains a typical working farm where people in need of support can benefit from participation in the farm’s activities in a non-clinical environment.

Since January 2019, the Finnegans have been delivering Social Farming sessions twice a week for six Learning Disability and Mental Health service users. On Mondays and Wednesdays, the Social Farming participants are supported to get involved with the normal farming and horticulture activities on-site. Participants get the opportunity to work with the cows, tend to plants in the polytunnel and garden areas, cut wood, and do general maintenance. The activities are varied and seasonal, allowing participants to develop a range of skills in a socially inclusive environment.

From April 2019, the Social Farming sessions at An Tobar will be extended to a third day each week to enable more service users to benefit from participation. The Finnegan family are committed to their Social Farming delivery and are looking forward to welcoming new participants soon.
Rural Support have been supporting the Finnegan family in their Social Farming delivery and promoting its development across Northern Ireland through funding support from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

If you would like further information on Social Farming you can contact Rural Support’s Social Farming Support Service on 028 86760040 or visit the Social Farming section of our website.