Established in 2013 and operating social farms since 2014, Kerry Social Farming (KSF) was founded on principles of equality, social inclusion, voluntary community development and collaboration. It is currently the only voluntary model of social farming in Ireland in that farmers are not paid for their time with participants. It is a locally-led, community-based, shared service that provides farming and social inclusion opportunities to people with intellectual disabilities and acquired brain injuries, all within local communities. Support for social farming in Ireland, including Kerry Social Farming, comes primarily from the Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine (DAFM) through its Commission for Economic Development of Rural Areas (CEDRA) Rural Innovation and Development Fund. As well as its fit with CEDRA, KSF is also aligned with Kerry’s Local Economic & Community Plan and receives support through the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP). HSE’s New Directions provides the framework for the governance, planning and implementation of KSF based on person-centredness, community inclusion, active citizenship and quality.
The Kerry Social Farming Project commenced in 2013 under the auspices of lead partner South Kerry Development Partnership CLG. The research findings from the Iveragh uplands and Rural Vibrancy in South Kerry more widely point to the broader value of farming to society and the economy as well as the strength of rural vibrancy demonstrated by rising volunteerism through a time of austerity.
It is within this context that in 2013, a working group was formed of members from families of people with a disability, farmers, service providers, community development organisations and local government to create the Kerry Social Farming project or KSF (SKDP). The KSF Working Group held its first meeting on 29th May 2013. Prior to May 2013, six months of planning and development work was carried out including attending conferences in Carrick-on-Shannon, Belfast and Armagh, as part of the Social Farming Across Borders (SoFAB) project.
From the beginnings in early 2013, Kerry Social farming has helped to build closer links between the farming community and people with disabilities and has grown steadily and sustainably from year to year, delivering 76 days of social farming within the first six months (July-December 2013). This rose to 490 social farming days in the period from July to December 2019. There was an understandable decline in social farming activity during 2020. However over 400 social farming days took place safely during the course of the year.
Kerry Social Farming has expanded from four farms in 2013 to 20 by the end of 2020, with a number of other farms poised to commence once circumstances permit. To date, Kerry Social Farming host farms have opened their farm gate to over 40 people with disabilities, allowing them avail of farming activities and enjoy the experience of being with animals and plants in a safe and friendly environment. The farms remained as working farms while offering participant opportunities to learn farm skills, life skills, connect with the rural community and build meaningful relationships.
To promote and operate social farming in Kerry as a viable option for achieving improved quality of life, greater inclusion and community networking for people with disabilities.
Through working collectively in a shared service with the social care service providers, people with disabilities, local communities, local development companies, national and local government, the business community, farm organisations & farm families to develop and provide Social Farming opportunities in Kerry.
The Kerry Social Farming Project steered by the KSF Working Group and is under the legal umbrella of lead partner South Kerry Development Partnership CLG. South Kerry Development Partnership CLG provides the legal, financial and administrative governance for Kerry Social Farming.
Kerry Social Farming is about Real Social Inclusion. The model of social farming in Kerry is unique in Ireland in that the KSFP is voluntary and community based – both the host farmers and the participants (persons with disabilities who avail of social farming) work together on a voluntary basis on the farm. The benefits of the voluntary model are that it lends itself to promote real social inclusion and foster real friendships and working relationships. In addition the voluntary model is sustainable, providing long-term placements for participants on the farms. This voluntary model harnesses the phenomenon of Rural Vibrancy that is evident right across Kerry and also evident in rural communities nationwide.
The host farms involved in the Kerry Social Farming Project are real ordinary farms. Participants attend the farm typically once a week for a few hours and get involved in farming activities which can be anything from feeding livestock, growing and delivering vegetables, attending the Mart etc. Therefore, farming life and activities continue as normal while participants are on the farm. Through the support of the host farmer, participants get to meet more people in the local rural community, getting to know the neighbours, other farmers and the farming family.
The KSF Working Group and facilitator ensure that no host farmer is out of pocket. Full financial support is given to cover additional insurance costs and implement necessary farm upgrades that may be required to ensure the health and safety of the participants, as well as funding additional activities on the farm that the participant would enjoy and benefit from.
Kerry Social Farming operates by the principles of bottom-up community development. Using a bottom-up approach, South Kerry Development Partnership CLG, the KSF lead partner, is ideally placed to bring together various stakeholders in the community to work together as Kerry Social Farming Shared Services.
Kerry Social Farming operates on a collaborative basis, and since 2013 has grown to incorporate a number of social farming partners. Our partners are as follows:
Kerry Parents & Friends Association (KPFA)
St. John of God Kerry Services (SJOG)
Down Syndrome Ireland, Kerry Branch (DSK)
South Kerry Development Partnership CLG (SKDP)
North East & West Kerry Development (NEWKD)
Host Farmers representatives
Social Farm Participants representatives
Health Service Executive (HSE)
Enable Ireland Kerry Adult Services
Kerry County Council (KCC)
Local Link Kerry
Kerry Education and Training Board (KETB)
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) Studio 3
National Learning Network
Representatives of the above partners make up the KSF Working Group, which is a working group of lead partner South Kerry Development Partnership CLG (SKDP) and reports regularly to the management and board of the partnership. Apart from the representatives on KSF Working Group, outlined above, KSF also works collaboratively with Local Link Kerry (Rural Transport) Local Link Kerry in developing a social car model, whereby host farmers and other community volunteers transport participants to and from the farm, thus helping the project to grow sustainably. The above model shows how all partners support the social farm participants by working together.
Ger and Mary, with the help of Ger’s brother Tim, run a mixed farm consisting of suckler cattle and sheep. Earl the social farm participant works alongside Ger, participating in a whole variety of regular farming activities: feeding livestock, especially helping to look after calves and lambs, herding cattle, change electric fences and cleaning sheds. From time to time Earl also heads off to the bog with Ger as well as mowing lawns, restoring old gates and a variety of community work. Earl has gotten to know a lot of people in the local community through his involvement in social farming – he knows all the neighbours and has gotten to know the farmers at the local mart. Ger and Mary Anne are delighted with their involvement in the project as they have gotten to know a lot of new people through their involvement in Kerry Social Farming. Recently Ger and Mary Anne attended a Black Tie event with Earl hosted by Special Olympics Club, the Skellig Stars as Earl is one of their athletes. In 2017, farm upgrades, funded by the Department for Agriculture Food and the Marine, on Ger’s farm basically involved work done to enable the safer movement of cattle in/out of the slatted unit when the participant is present: this involved replacing a swing door with sliding door along with securing barriers across the farmyard where cattle would be moved in between sheds.
George Kelly runs a mixed enterprise of mainly suckler cows with some sheep, at Hazelfort Farm. He
has been involved in social farming since 2013. There is currently one participant from SJOG, with
their SJOG support worker on a Monday, and a further three participants from KPFA, support worker
Farming activities are organised for the participants such that the farm work is co- ordinated around activities which the participants can partake in, thus accommodating a person- centred approach.
Following a collaborative HSA farm audit (John McCrohan SKDP and KSF Facilitator) and risk assessments carried out with host farmer, service provider staff and participants, an area between the slatted unit and sheds was resurfaced to make it safer and accessible for participants in 2017.
In addition new gates were installed to make it safer for participants when moving cattle. This work was funded by KSF-DAFM.
Dessy has a small beef farm, self-catering accommodation and a part time job off the farm. Ryan and John previously attended, accompanied by their KPFA support worker Fiona Murphy. Ryan continues to attend. A polytunnel has been constructed with SICAP funds on the farm for the participants to work in. They also feed the animals in the winter and move them around the farm in the summer. In 2017, an area of farmyard on Dessy’s farm was concreted to enable easier access and also to facilitate participants using the wheelbarrow in the yard. Gates were inserted to enable safer movement of livestock when participants are present. Electrics were upgraded in the slatted unit to improve the lighting in the unit for the participants. Dessie hosted a very successful Farm Walk in July 2019 attended by over 60 people.
Patricia and Anthony Kelleher run a beef farm and also have bucket rearing dairy calves. Vincent the participant attends the farm on Tuesdays and has worked alongside Anthony to improve calf pens for the bucket rearing calf enterprise, which has expanded with the introduction of social farming on the Kelleher farm. The dairy calves are purchased from local dairy farmers and bucket reared by the Kelleher’s and Vincent. Vincent likes the tasks of measuring marking and cutting the steel under Anthony guidance to make pens for the calves. In addition, Vincent and Anthony worked on improving the electric fencing around the farm yard and the fields close to the yard to make it safer and easier for Vincent to move the calves in and out of the sheds for feeding. In addition, gates were put in place which can open a close safely by participants. Other activities have included piking silage, cleaning sheds and dosing cattle. Recent farm upgrades in 2017, funded by the DAFM were required to provide alternative activities for Vincent on account of health reasons, meaning that the he cannot do any heavy duty work. A polytunnel has been purchased to provide different activities for the participant and enhance the social farm offer. Additionally a creep feeder for calves along with an accompanying weighing scale was purchased to enable the participant safely feed the calves. The participant will work alongside the farmer, writing down the weight of the calves and Patricia will teach Vincent how much feed to give to the calves based on their weight. This is a wonderful example of blended learning, where a participant can improve numeracy skills through farming practice with the support of the host farmer.
Christy and Mary have a suckler cow and sheep farm about four miles outside Cahersiveen. Christy provides social farming opportunities for David Cronin and Ellen O’Donoghue every week. David loves farming and is very involved in day to day activity of the farm which includes fencing, moving livestock, feeding animals indoor in the winter, cleaning sheds before and after calving, maintaining equipment and cutting fire wood. Following a yearly safety audit by KSF in 2017 a number of upgrades were identified. Additional fencing and gate were required outside the slatted unit to allow for safer movement of cattle. Additionally, a polytunnel is erected to increase the activities on the farm for participants. These upgrades have been funded by the DAFM. Ellen began social farming in September 2018 and is enjoying all activities so far and is keen to learn more about farming, cooking and baking.
Eamon runs a mixed enterprise sheep and beef cows and also has pigs and some fowl. He has joined the organic farm scheme and is involved in GLAS. Two participants Mags and Tim previously attended the farm – Eamon has taught them many skills including how to make bird boxes for the GLAS schemes. In addition, Eamon has also facilitated an Applied Leaving Cert student with disabilities from Kenmare Community School to avail of work experience on his farm. Going forward KSF will continue to work with Kenmare Community School, facilitating students who are at risk from social, educational and employment exclusion. Tim has moved on to other activities while Mags continues to attend Eamon’s farm and is involved in all aspects of farm and community life in Kilgarvan.
Michael is fully immersed in life on the farm and says that the farming helps keep him fit. A further two participants Shane and Anthony commenced in July 2019 and will attend together with their support worker, who will also provide transport. The participants, their SJOG support staff, Helen and Irene have all met together to set up their induction/support plans and ensure the appropriate risk assessment is to be carried out and acted upon.
Breada, the participant, attends Breeda’s farm on Tuesdays, independently of the support worker. Breeda, the host farmer, transports the participant to and from the farm, having signed up to the social car scheme which is operated collaboratively bettween Kingdom Social Farming and Local Link Kerry. Despite the fact that Breada has never done any farm work previously she has gotten very well on the farm, with the support of the host farm family: Farming activities that Breada the participant partakes in include feeding and marking sheep, fencing, checking the cattle along with gardening and baking. Fencing near the entrance of the farm yard on Breeda’s farm was improved on for the safety of the participant, along with roofing in one of the sheds, supported by CEDRA funding from the DAFM.
Willie Reidy was host farmer at Castleisland community allotment and Joan Brosnan has now joined the team. The setting is a community horticultural enterprise, and participants Clare Rohan and Martin Murphy from SJOG Kerry Services avail of social farming opportunities. Clare started Social Farming in May 2018 and Martin began in 2019. There is always plenty of work to be done in the tunnels depending on the season, including cleaning out polytunnels and compost area as well as seeding, harvesting, weeding, grafting trees and saving/gathering seeds. The garden was upgraded during 2020 with new polytunnel and watering system installed which greatly enhances the centre. Joan became involved in supporting participant Martin as social farming was safely recommenced in autumn 2020.
Ger and Catherine run a busy dairy farm based in Annadale, Killorglin and they first met up with participant Owen O’ Connor on 10th September. Owen is from Glenbeigh so the farm is ideally located for him. Joseph McCrohan SKDP Rural Development/KSF Manager and a KSF Facilitator carried out a farm Health and Safety assessment along with the host farmer. Staff from SJOG were also present and carried out a Risk Assessment. Safety signage has been put in place on the farm and improvement works identified in the risk assessment were completed in 2018. Owen comes to the farm in the afternoon so he can help Ger and Catherine with milking which is a key task on any dairy farm. He enjoys taking part in other farming activities and journeys such as visits to the mart and getting supplies at the local Kerry Agri-store.
John has a sheep farm at Blackwater in the scenic and renowned Black Valley area. John began as host farmer in September 2018 with participant Daniel Cronin and his support worker Jim O’ Mahony. Daniel avails of Kerry Parents and Friends service in Killarney. Joseph McCrohan SKDP Rural Development/KSF Manager and Irene Kavanagh (then KSF Facilitator) carried out a farm Health and Safety assessment along with the host farmer and improvements have been carried out. New signage has been put in place and electrics in the shed have been upgraded. The concrete in the yard has also been improved and a small bridge near the farmyard was upgraded. John now supports Daniel through the social car transport model. Daniel loves his time on the farm with John, and activities include feeding and checking sheep, fencing work, cleaning the yards and sheds. Daniel is also there to offer a helping hand during the busy lambing season as well as looking after an array of fowl. James attends the farm with his support worker as he is getting back into social farming after a break.
Mary operates a mixed farm enterprise near Ballyduff in North Kerry. She has dairy cattle, sucklers and sheep. Her niece Karen and her fiancé Paul help out on the farm. Stephen Faley and Seamus McCarthy attend St John of God Services at Listowel and have been keen to avail of social farming for some time. Together with their support worker Orla Cooney, they visited Mary’s farm and first impressions were positive on all sides. The farm Health and Safety Assessment was done and improvement works have been completed including upgrading electrics in the slatted unit (so participants have good visibility when feeding cattle in the winter months); additional installation of gates and crushes, so participants can safely feed and allow for safe movement of cattle and repair of roofs and eave shoots. Support plans are in place for Stephen and Seamus who are enjoying their social farming time each week.
Eileen Carroll and Ian McGrigor have run Gortbrack Organic Farm at Ballyseedy, near Tralee for almost 30 years offering a wide range of activities on their 11 acre holding. They grow fruit and vegetables and run regular classes on all aspects of organic horticulture, as well as providing a relaxing venue for self-catering holidays. Kerry Social Farming is delighted to work with Eileen and Ian in bringing social farming to this unique venture. Donal McCarthy and Patrick Barry avail of St John of God services in Tralee and are now participants at Gortbrack. Tomas Fitzmaurice, Kevin McNamara and Bryan O’Shea of St John of God services in Tralee and are now participants at Gortbrack. Tomas and Kevin commenced social farming in May 2019 and attend with their support workers, with Bryan commencing during 2020. Ian and Elieen hosted a farm walk for host farmers in September 2020
Rena Blake has a small holding just outside Ballybunion. She keeps livestock and fowl, and grows a wide variety of vegetables and fruit with an emphasis on organic and sustainable growth. Bronagh Enright and Antoinette O’Sullivan attend the St John of God Centre in Listowel. A safety audit was carried out in Rena’s farm and upgrades were approved and carried out. A new polytunnel with raised beds was put in place and pathways were improved in line with recommendations around mobility issues for one participant. Concrete flooring was improved in an outbuilding also. Bronagh and Antoinette attend each Friday. During Spring 2019 they were joined a new participant John O’Connor who moved from a different farm. The participants engage in activities such as potting, planting inside the polytunnel and in outside beds, watering plants and also workshop activities e.g. they helped Rena sand wood butterflies and seats for the local school. They also worked alongside Rena to repair a hen house and a small bridge in the woods on the farm. One of the targets identified at the recent farm/support plan review is for participants to work alongside Rena at Ballybunion community market at weekends - where participants will sell their produce with Rena. This is a very positive step for participants and a great social inclusion initiative. Rena also hosted a very successful Kerry Social Farming Open Day on her farm in October 2018.
Maura runs Maura’s Cottage Flowers in Ballyroe, just outside Tralee. She grows flowers using organic methods in her on-site polytunnels and provides floral arrangements for all occasions. Vanessa Meehan and Ciara Corridon avail of services with Skills Plus at St John of God, Ashe St., Tralee and they are attending Maura’s premises.
An initial safety audit was done with input from St. John of God staff and improvement works have been identified, including the laying of a new footpath to improve access to lower polytunnel and installation of handrail.
These were completed in 2018. Cormac Galvin is the support worker and attends each week. Maura writes a column in Irish Country Living supplement of the Farmers Journal and this has helped bring the message of social farming to a wide audience and showed its presence in a new area outside of what might be viewed as mainstream farming.
Activities include setting, harvesting, arranging and delivering bouquets with Maura, as well as learning all about names of different types of flowers and how to grow them. Participants also grew vegetables in the garden. Siobhan Quirke began social farming with Maura in July 2019 and her support plan is now in place.
Irene Brune has a small horticultural holding outside of Cahersiveen and is very familiar with Kerry Social Farming. She was formerly a KPFA staff member and had previously supported social farming participants. Irene Kavanagh (then KSF Facilitator) conducted an on-site farm audit with Irene Brune and discussed the kinds of activities that could be offered to participants.
Following collaborative set up, David Cronin and James Moriarty began on Irene’s farm and availed of a variety of activities including horticultural (polytunnel/outside beds) work, workshop activities (repairs) and some arts and crafts. David continues to attend in 2020 as James has moved.
In Spring 2020 Rebecca O’Brien began coming to Irene and is enjoying her time there. Irene is also keen to apply her experience in working with people with disabilities through farming, such as developing their communication skills by supporting David and Rebecca to keep a visual diary of their activities on the farm.
Tom and his wife Margaret are embarking on a new chapter in their lives. They have both taken early retirement and are starting to develop a very special social inclusion centre in their farm outside Tralee. This will encompass a horticulture project, orchard, fruit and berry gardens and beekeeping for people with disabilities. Tom and Margaret have a son with special needs, Ciaran, who is currently attending the National Learning Network in Tralee. Ciaran has been the main inspiration and driving force behind this project. Social Farming participant Tim attends from St John of God Centre in Listowel. He had previously attended on another farm but this was some distance away so he was keen to move to a farm closer to home. He travels independently to Tralee using public transport. This is as a result of support work done by SJOG and KSF towards developing this ability and building the Tim’s self- confidence and social skills. This year Tom constructed a multi-purpose shed which includes storage space, a potting shed, a kitchen/food preparation area and a farm shop. All are wheelchair accessible with a disability access toilet. Alongside this area Tom installed a polytunnel with some raised beds with the support of Kerry Social Farming. Scotia Glen is a fully certified organic farm with produce on sale locally.
Mike O Sé, Dromid, began social farming in October 2020. Mike has a suckler farm and a keen interest in vegetable growing and bees; offering a wide variety of activities on his farm. Mike was familiar with social farming, through his work on RSS and working on other host farms. Mike’s interest in becoming a host farmer came from meeting with people with disabilities through this work and he was keen to offer the same opportunities on his own farm.
Gerald O Sullivan from Sneem, with support from Sean Houlihan from Kerry Parents and Friends Association, has started social farming on Mike’s farm. Gerald has been helping with jobs and is enjoying the opportunity of working outdoors and being able to contribute to the work on the farm. Gerald’s family have a farm at home and he is enjoying developing his skills further on his social farming days.
Thomas and Claire O’Connor run Manna Organic Farm, a 25 acre holding at Gleann na naGealt, near Camp in West Kerry. They have 15-acres of native Irish woodland and 4-acres of permaculture including fruit trees. The farm supplies their farm shop in Tralee with lettuces, mixed leaf salad bags, kale, garlic, rocket, radishes, broad beans, peas and scallions. Facilitator Rena Blake worked with Thomas and Claire in setting up the farm so it was suitable for participants. Martin O’Donoghue and Maurice Moriarty from St John of God Service Tralee, began coming to the farm in autumn 2020 with their support worker Geraldine O’Mahony. There is plenty for them to do and they greatly enjoy their farming days.
Just prior to their involvement in social farming, Thomas and Claire were interviewed for RTE’s ‘Ear to the Ground’ programme and this was broadcast on 5th November 2020 on RTE One, see link to episode on RTE player.
The Kerry Social Farming Project supports people with disabilities (participants) avail of social farming opportunities on ordinary farms in their local community on a long term basis (ie for as long as farmer and participant are happy to continue). Each farmer offers their time on a voluntary basis, typically for 3-6- hours once a week supporting 1-2 participants on the farm. The host farms remain a working farm at its core, and through the voluntary effort of farmers and their families’ participants are supported to participate in the farming activities and get to know people in their wider community. Farmers are fully supported in terms of operational supports, health and safety, training, and no farmer is out of pocket in terms of any farm upgrades required, any additional insurance cost, hosting farm walks and any transport required.
The model of Kerry Social Farming is such that we aim to support participants to avail of social farming on a long term basis, where both the host farmer and participants are happy to continue, rather than short-term pilot placements. Accordingly, great care is taken to ‘match’ participants with host farms and farmers. Additionally there is a structured trial period whereby participants and host farmers get to know each other, and the participant gets a clearer understanding of the host farm activities.
Currently the selection process for participants is through referrals from the service providers and voluntary organisations. Referred participants complete an application form, with the support of an advocate where necessary, regarding their preferences, requirements and understanding of social farming and the KSF facilitator meets the participants and their advocates to explain more about the project and what’s involved. Likewise, recruitment of host farmers has been achieved through presentations at Rural Social Scheme meetings, linking in with IFA and media sources.
Following an expression of interest, the KSF facilitator liaises with potential host farmers on the farm to discuss the project and the farmer also completes an application form, if they are happy to proceed.
Farmers are fully supported by the Kerry Social Farming Project and the facilitator in getting set up as a social farm. Operational support is provided by the facilitator, along with labour support where required to make any farm upgrades/adjustments. Farmers are also fully supported financially to make any necessary farm upgrades to ensure the health and safety of the participant and/or provide different activities Following initial contact being made, the local KSF facilitator visits the farm. Following this meeting with the potential host farmer and an initial site inspection, the garda vetting process is commenced and a safety audit is conducted by the KSF facilitator and SKDP Rural Social Scheme (RSS) SKDP supervisor and host farmer. The audit is conducted to Health and Safety Authority (HSA) standards, and the host farmer is given a copy of the farm safety statement, along with a summary list of recommended Health and Safety (H&S) adjustments that are required. The H&S farm adjustments are for the safety of the participants on the farm and also to make farmers aware of hazards on site. The funding for necessary farm adjustments are from the DAFM (via CEDRA funding). The participants’ support workers (from the service provider) are also at hand to advise regarding safety of participants on the farm.
Ongoing support for the farmers is provided by the Kerry Social Farming Facilitator and Project Manager, with the backing of the working group. The facilitator is available for occasional farm visits and available by phone if the farmer has any queries. Also the facilitator provides an important link to liaise farmers with participants’ support workers and families. Host farmers are also represented on the KSFP Working Group and are there to ensure that host farmers are fully included in the steering of the project.
Financial support is provided for both the set up phase and ongoing supports. For instance, after a while it may come to light that additional adjustments may need to be provided to the farm, either to provide additional activities for the participants and/or safety adjustments. The importance that ‘no farmer is out of pocket’ and that funds are there to continue to provide social farming activities for people with disabilities is fundamental to the operation of the KSFP, as farmers offer their time to the project on a voluntary capacity. Expenses for farmers to attend other KSFP activities are also provided.
The KSFP facilitator liaises with participants and their support workers to ensure that participants are placed on farms in accordance with their own person centred plan (PCP). The person centred approach of the KSFP is another fundamental aspect of the project. Participants are placed based on what activities, goals and farming activities they might like to be involved with and what kind of supports they might need. Participants are typically supported on the farm by the individuals support worker for the trail period (normally 4-8 weeks) as well as the host farmer.
A review at the end of the trial period is a collaborative approach between participant, host farmer and the service provider, which is coordinated by the Kerry Social Farming Facilitator.
After the trial period the additional support provided by the support worker may be phased out, if that additional support for participant and host farmer is no longer required in these instances. However, the support worker staff remain in contact with the KSFP facilitator and host farmers to provide support on an ongoing basis.
Occasionally a support worker may continue to work alongside the participant and host farmer where additional assistance is required. The KSF Framework of Support Plan ensures that the participants’ progression is evaluated on an ongoing basis. Not only are the participants central to the ongoing reviews of the support plans, these evaluations are conducted in a collaborative manner whereby host farmers and support workers can make an important contribution.
The KSFP is working with Local Link Kerry to develop a social car model to assist with participant transport to farms. Ongoing financial support is also provided to the KSFP to purchase equipment, PPE and protective farm clothing for participants.
One of the targets of the KSFP set out for the Oct 2016-Oct 2017 period with the DAFM was to hold 8 farm walks/knowledge transfer events. A total of ten host farm walks/knowledge transfer events took place during this period. A host farmer meeting took place in Listry at the beginning of 2017. Two host farm walks took place on Ger O Sullivan’s farm in 2016 and 2017, one on Patricia and Anthony Kelliher’s farm in Faha, one on Christy and Mary McDonnell’s farm and one on George Kelly’s Hazelfort Farm.
Farmers from the KSFP also attended the South Kerry Ploughing Championship and the National Ploughing Championship in 2017 as well as the 2017 Burren Winterage School. An extended host farm walk/open day too place on host farm, Hazelfort Farm to launch the 2017 KSFP Evaluation Report.
During the period Oct2017-Oct2018, a number of farm walks took place. In March we held our first farm walk in the NEWKD area, hosted by Helen and Danny O’Mahony, Castleisland. In April Breda O’Sullivan had a walk on her farm at Glencar and in October a farm walk was held as part of an Open Day on Rena Blake’s farm near Ballybunion.
Farmers also attended the Kingdom County Fair in Tralee in May, National Ploughing Championships at Tullamore in September and Women and Agriculture Conference in Killarney in October.
A farm walk was held on the farm of Des Cronin, Ballinskelligs in July 2019. During August, in an innovative collaboration with Cahirsiveen Festival of Music and the Arts, a Farm Walk was hosted by Ger and Mary Anne O’Sullivan on their farm outside Cahirsiveen. Kerry Social Farming also had a stand at the annual Puck Fair in Killorglin.
Puck Fair was filmed for the TV Series Beidh Aonah Amárach with Kerry Social Farming host farmers and participants featuring prominently. The series was broadcast on TG4 and BBC Two in Spring 2020.
Breda O’Sullivan hosted a successful event on her farm in Glencar in November 2019 in conjunction with the formal launch of the UCC Certificate in Practice Support in Social Farming.
Public Health restrictions due to COVID-19 have impacted greatly on farm events which were to take place during 2020. However, a successful host farmer gathering was held at Gortbrack Organic Farm, Ballyseedy, Tralee on 28th September. There was a limited attendance, with social distancing being observed in line with HSE guidelines. New and existing host farmers were hosted by Ian McGregor and Eileen Carroll. The event provided a valuable opportunity for meeting and networking safely and in person, following many months of online communication.
The targets for Kerry Social Farming 2017-2018 are informed by the agreed targets with the DAFM, as set out in the KSFP/SKDP proposal to develop the KSFP model submitted to the DAFM, 25th July 2017. These targets are primarily informed by the recommendations made in the evaluation report on KSFP, conducted by Dr Brendan O Keefe (Mary Immaculate College), Dr Caroline Crowley (Crowley Research) and Dr Shane O Sullivan (Limerick Institute of Technology). The evaluation of Kerry Social Farming was funded was funded by the DAFM (via CEDRA funding) which was awarded to SKDP in 2016 following their successful bid to develop a model of social farming, Lot 2 Single Model, with national benefits (KSFP Final Report, 2017).
A link to the report can be accessed here:2017 KSFP Evaluation Report. These targets were achieved across a wide range of actions including the enhancement of input by participants, provision of training opportunities for participants and host farmers, the enhancement of social farming activities on host farms and increased clarity on the roles of all project partners through the updated Memorandum of Understanding.