Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Fergus O’Dowd and Northern Ireland Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Michelle O’Neill, recently jointly launched a new cross border Social Farming initiative.
The ‘Social Farming Across Borders’ (SoFAB) project will link the health care and agriculture sectors to establish a novel social support service for people that use health and social services. Over next two years, the Social Farming Across Borders project, which has been jointly developed by University College Dublin, Queen’s University of Belfast, Leitrim Development Company and DARD’s College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) will establish twenty demonstration social farms and a cross border network of farmers, health care professionals and people that use services.
Minister O’Dowd urged farmers and farm families across the Region to take the time to consider the potential benefits of Social Farming to their business and local community.
“The Social Farming project has been awarded funding of almost €700,000 from the European Union’s Interreg IVA Programme. My department welcomes the targeting social inclusion through this initiative. The development of Across Borders Social Farming network further enables farmers and those involved in health and social care services to engage and develop the provision of Social Farming in the cross border region and Northern Ireland,” he said.
Pat Colgan Speaker from SEUPB also welcomed the project by saying: “Social Farming is an innovative project and one which the SEUPB is delighted to be supporting. It addresses one of the core objectives of the INTERREG IVA Programme to contribute to a more sustainable cross-border region. Upon completion, this project will have helped build capacity among service providers and through its pilot programme it will gather crucial information on how best to implement this new concept of service delivery in the eligible area.”