Kerry Social Farming is a voluntary, locally led, community based initiative.

COVID-19 Announcement

In light of Covid -19 situation and public health advice, social farming activity has ceased for the moment. South Kerry Development CLG and North East West Kerry Development are part of Kerry Community Response Advisory Group, set up to co-ordinate community response across the county at this time. A new FREEPHONE number 1800 807 009 is now in operation to help with non-emergency and non-medical queries and advice such as deliveries of food, fuel and other essentials. For more details, please download leaflet here.

Launch of Certificate in Practice Support in Social Farming

On November 1st Minister Brendan Griffin officially launched the Certificate in Practice Support in Social Farming at Skellig CRI, Cahirsiveen. The day began with a visit to Breeda and Patrick O’Sullivan’s farm at Glencar, where social farming participant Breda O’Sullivan proved an able guide for visitors, including Minister Griffin, Moira Murrell (CEO Kerry County Council), Dr. Rónán Ó Dubhghaill (Vice President of External Engagement UCC), Professor Séamus Ó’Tuama (ACE UCC) and Noel Spillane (CEO SKDP). Host farmers currently taking part in the course are pictured above with Dr. Ó Dubhghaill, Prof Ó’Tuama, Belinda Gascoigne (Co-Ordinator Skellig CRI), Dr Joan Cronin (ACE UCC), Professor Cathal O’Connell, Dr Andi Kenneally and Nicola Maxwell (Department of Applied Social Studies UCC) and Joseph McCrohan (SKDP).

Ring of Kerry 2019

Kerry Social Farming are delighted to be among a number of groups to receive funding from the proceeds of the Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle 2019 at the presentation night held in the Gleneagle Hotel Killarney, on October 11th. This year’s cycle raised more than a million euro for charities and groups across Kerry. Thanks to all those whose hard work make this wonderful event possible.

Kerry Social Farming at Puck Fair, Killorglin 2019!

Kerry Social Farming were delighted to have a stand at the famous Puck Fair in Killorglin Co. Kerry, 2019. The BBC/TG4 were there to talk to some of our host farmers and participants for their production “Beidh Aonach Amárach”. They did some filming on one of our host farms, Dessy Cronin’s host farm, Ballinskelligs, too!

Kerry Social Farming host farm walk for Cahersiveen Festival for Music & the Arts, Friday 2nd August 2019.

Great day at Kerry Social Farming host farm open day event at Ger and Mary Anne O Sullivan's farm in Cahersiveen for Cahersiveen Festival for Music and the Arts. A great crowd gathered at the host farm walk, kindly hosted by Ger, Mary Anne, Ger's brother Tim and of course Earl Leahy-the participant who goes social farming at the farm every week. Earl was a brilliant MC! Lovely weather, plenty of grub and banter made it a very social farming day! Thanks to the O Sullivan’s and Cahersiveen Festival for Music & the Arts.

Farm Walk on the farm of Ger & Mary Anne O’Sullivan

Cahirsiveen Festival of Music and the Arts and Kerry Social Farming are organising a Farm Walk on the farm of Ger & Mary Anne O’Sullivan, Laharn South, Cahirciveen this Friday August 2nd. Those attending will be transported by bus from Festival Office in Cahirsiveen town centre to the farm. Pre-booking is essential so please phone Festival Office at 087 343 9976 to book your place. There will be 2 trips, with the first bus leaving town at 11am and the second one leaving in the afternoon at 2pm.

Kerry Social Farming, Host Farm Walk Wednesday 10th July - Dessy Cronin's host farm Ballinskelligs, Co. Kerry

A mighty Kerry Social Farming Host Farm Walk at Dessy Cronin's host farm in Ballinskelligs, took place on Wednesday 10th July 2019. The little bit of rain didn't dampen our spirits - we had 65 host people attending from across County Kerry: host farmers and host farm families, participants from Down Syndrome Kerry, Cunamh Iveragh, St John of God Kerry, Kerry Parents and Friends, and some of their family members.

Also in attendance to lend a helping hand and providing support for participants in attendance were staff from our partner service providers Kerry Parents and Friends and St John of God Kerry Services. Thanks to the fantastic collaborative support and coming to the farm walk. Some of our participants and host farmers came all the way from North Kerry. There was great craic on the bus, provided with the support of Local Link Kerry to bring people from Tralee.)

Two years ago we would have about 10 people coming to our farm walks. The large turn out today has shown how much our Kerry Social Farming Family has grown. We are indebted to the continued support of our volunteer host farmers who go to trojan efforts to support people with disabilities in our rural communities across the county

Huge huge thanks to Dessy, Theresa, David and Daniel Cronin for being great hosts and all the work you put in for Kerry Social Farming and preparing for the wonderful day. Dessy and Theresa just completed the Ring of Kerry Cycle, to raise funds for Cunamh Iveragh....well done guys!!!

Kerry Social Farming Annual Meeting

Kerry Social Farming held its Annual Meeting at Listowel Family Resource Centre on Tuesday 22nd of January 2019. Over 70 people from all over the county attended including social farming participants and their families, host farmers, representatives from partner service providers and farmers interested in becoming involved with the project. Guest speaker Councillor Aoife Thornton spoke passionately about her own personal experiences of the benefits of social farming. Irene Kavanagh, Kerry Social Farming Facilitator gave a comprehensive review of activities during 2018 highlighting the continued expansion of the project. There are now to 18 host farms with 33 participants all over Kerry being supported. Host farmers and participants spoke about the positive effects of social farming and of lasting friendships and support that it has brought to their lives. The evening was rounded off by a presentation to each host farmer of a specially commissioned framed aerial photo of their farm.


Kerry Social Farming hosted an open day at the farm of Rena Blake at Barna, Ballybunion on October 26th. Over 170 people attended drawn from participants, host farmers, service agencies, support workers, family members, local development company staff and Board members, Kerry County Council officers, potential host farmers and other interested groups. Paul Geraghty and Lisa Keveney from the Department of Rural Affairs and Community Development also attended. A Park and Ride system was organised in counjuntion with Kerry Local Link and attendees were brought to the farm from designated car-parking at the local Ballybunion Men’s Shed. Groups were guided around the farm aided by a specially drafted map and each group visited various areas of the farm and the information stands. Kerry Social Farming participants, host farmers, local development companies, service providers and Local Link Kerry each had their own stand and personnel at each stand informed visitors about the project and answered questions from interested parties. Presentations were given by a number of speakers including:

• Cllr Aoife Thornton Chair of Listowel Municipal District.

• Sean Kelly MEP.

• Social Farming Participants Bronagh Enright and Mags O’Donoghue.

• George Kelly, Chair of Kerry Social Farming.

• John Stack Chair of NEWKD.

• Michelle Angland of St John of God, Kerry Services.

• Paul Geraghty of DRCD.

The event attracted coverage in local media including the Kerryman newspaper.

An updated video on the work of Kerry Social Farming has been produced by Tadhg Hayes video Productions. To view this video just click on the link here 


Kerry Social Farming were represented at Women and Agriculture Conference 2018 hosted by Irish Country Living (Farmers Journal) at the Europe Hotel, Killarney. This is the first time the project had a presence at this high profile event which attracted over 650 women from across Ireland. This proved to be an invaluable networking event and a great way of publicising the project to a new audience of women farmers, rural businesswomen from a variety of sectors, community leaders and entrepreneurs. Host farmers Maura Sheehy, Breda O’Sullivan and Helen O’Mahony, participants Mags O’Donoghue and Breeda O’Sullivan, Angie Kissane (SJOG), Gerry Smith (SJOG), and KSF administrator Julie Brosnan helped out on the day, meeting and chatting with those attending and handing our information leaflets about social farming.

Agritime - September 20th, 20188888

Kerry Social Farming host farmers and participants attended the recent National Ploughing Championships in Tullamore. We had plenty of visitors to our stand and lots of networking with those interested in finding out more about social farming. Unfortunately our presence was cut short by damage caused by Storm Ali on Wednesday 19 th September. Host farmer Eamon Horgan spoke to Aisling O’Brien on Radio Kerry’s Agritime programme on September 20 th about the eventful trip to the Ploughing.
Click here to listen!

Kerry Social Farming showcases its work at recent Project Ireland 2040: Strengthening Rural Communities & Economies Event in Westport Co. Mayo.

Kerry Social Farming took a leading part in Project Ireland 2040: Strengthening Rural Communities and Economies held at Town Hall Theatre, Westport on July 13th. KSF Facilitator Irene Kavanagh participated in a panel discussion on ‘Creating Stronger Rural Economies and Communities’ , sharing the stage with An Taoiseach Leo Varadker, Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring, Dr. Maura Farrell (Rural Network), and Anne Marie Delaney. The panel was chaired by Mary Kennedy from RTE’S Nationwide programme.

Delegates viewed a specially prepared video on Kerry Social Farming (see above) and heard about the positive impact this unique project is having for participants, families, farmers and communities all across Kerry. There was plenty of time for networking and Social farming participant Earl Leahy and Host farmer Ger O’Sullivan took the opportunity to chat to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar about social farming and the importance of supporting sustainable rural communities.

Kerry Social Farming to show how its creating stronger rural communities at Government Project Ireland 2040 event

Kerry Social Farming Project are delighted to be represented on a panel on “Creating Stronger Rural Economies and Communities”. Irene Kavanagh, Kerry Social Farming Facilitator, will represent our project on the panel. The panel discussion is being held as part of the Rural Sectoral Event for Project Ireland 2040 hosted by The Department of Rural and Community Development and The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine Project Ireland 2040 and is held on Friday 13th July, Town Hall Theatre, Westport.

Kerry Social Farming

Social farming project still walking tall

Such has been the success of the Kerry Social Farming project in South Kerry it has now expanded county-wide with five new farmers in North Kerry coming on board with the unique project. Kerry Social Farming, is a project that facilitates adults with disabilities to visit and help out regularly on farms in Kerry. The initiative allows the participants to work with animals on the farm as well as learning farm skills and life skills. It also helps them become part of the local community. On the other side of the coin it helps local farmers develop new relationships and to have assistance and company on their farms. The unique project has received nation-wide and European praise, and was the winner of the 2017 Kerry Community Awards as well as being honoured at the National Pride of Place Awards. The Social Farming initiative works in co-operation with many agencies in the county including Kerry County Council, disability service providers, the HSE and NEWKD, amongst others. It is also supported through the Rural Social Scheme and the TÚS programme. Kerry Social Farming has gone county-wide with five farms in North Kerry opening their doors for young adults with disabilities. These are in Tralee, Ballybunion, Ballyduff and Castleisland. There are 11 farms participating in south Kerry. On Thursday last a farm walk took place in the farm of Helen O'Mahony in Castleisland to showcase the project and the benefits for all those involved. Among those in attendance were participants and farmers from South Kerry as well as new farmers in north Kerry. Chairman of the board of NEWKD John Stack, who is also a farmer, and IFA Munster representative John Coughlan also attended. A presentation was also made by Belinda Gascoigne from UCC/Skellig CRI Cahersiveen on a new Social Farming training course currently being developed. "The idea was to promote the project in North Kerry. What is unique about this project is that it is voluntary and unique," says Kerry Social Farming Facilitator Irene Kavanagh. Currently the project is funded by the Department of Agriculture but a long-term funding solution is key to the future of social farming and to its future across the county.
Click here to read the original article!

Agritime - March 29th 2018

Aisling O’Brien hears about boosts for both Farm Assist payments and the Rural Social Scheme (RSS). She checks in with Kerry Social Farming Project and brings you prices from marts and factories with Tomas Burke. There’s also a focus on preparing cattle for the upcoming breeding season and she hears from a writer in search of interesting farm trees.
Click here to listen!

Capturing individuality in a collective effort.

It was a day of celebration for the Kerry Social Farming Project as participants reflected on a fifth year of success at their annual meeting in The Brehon, Killarney, last Wednesday. Winners of last year's Kerry Community Awards, the project has been running since 2013 and has a massively positive effect on the people involved. The voluntary project aims to provide opportunities for people with disabilities to learn new skills on farms around south Kerry. It gives an opportunity for people with disabilities to work on local farms for a few hours a week to help develop crucial skills. "They become part of the 'Farm Family' and the farmers working with them are great help," says Irene Kavanagh of The Kerry Social Farming Project. Irene has praise for everyone involved in the project and says that Wednesday's meeting was an opportunity to discuss the huge strides the project has witnessed, particularly within the last year. "We currently cater to over 36 people with disabilities and there are 13 farms and two community gardens that volunteer within the project," Irene told The Kerryman. These farmers and all of their families were present on Wednesday to see just how much the project has helped change lives. The event was also a chance to explain how beneficial the project is and how crucial it is that people with disabilities all over Kerry should be able to access these opportunities. Junior Minister Brendan Griffin was present on the evening to lend his support and to talk to those gathered about how it needs to continue and expand. "The best part of the night was definitely when a framed photo of people out on the farm was presented to the project," says Irene, adding: "It was just very sweet and really represented what we are trying to achieve here". "The Brehon was great and despite the bad weather we had a great turnout." Irene said that the volunteers got positive feedback from the farmers involved and added that the next chapter for the project will be to expand into North Kerry.

3 December 2017 2017 IPB Pride of Place Winners Announced. Kerry takes top spot in two of the main competition categories.

The winners of the IPB Pride of Place Awards in association with Co-operation Ireland were announced last night at a gala awards ceremony in Letterkenny. The awards acknowledge the achievements and the invaluable work undertaken by volunteers and those involved in local community development. Glenbeigh in Kerry achieved the runner up position in category one, which is for villages with a population of less than 300 people. Kerry Social Farming Project also took the runner up spot in category eight, Community Reaching Out Initiative. During the ceremony 49 awards were announced in the main competition, the cities competition and special awards, ranging from groups supporting small rural communities to those involved in large inner city housing estates. Donegal County Council hosted the evening and celebrated Irish musicians Donal Lunney and Paddy Glackin entertained the audience before the winners were announced. RTE presenter Aengus MacGrianna was MC for the ceremony, which was attended by over 800 people.

Sponsored by IPB Insurance, the Pride of Place competition was initiated 15 years ago through a Co-operation Ireland programme to acknowledge the invaluable work undertaken by communities and groups across the island of Ireland. It has grown into the largest competition recognising community development achievements. The winners were presented with their awards by Minister Joe McHugh TD, Government Chief Whip & Minister of State for Gaeilge, An Ghaeltacht and the Islands, Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, Cllr Gerry McMonagle, Dr Christopher Moran, Chairman Co-operation Ireland, Michael McGreal, Vice Chair IPB Insurance and Tom Dowling, Chairperson, Pride of Place Committee.

Tom Dowling, Chairperson of IPB Pride of Place Competition said "This unique competition is about showing respect and inclusion for every sector in our communities, young, old, rich or poor and creating communities to which the people are proud to say they belong". He added that he was delighted that this year's gala ceremony was being held in Donegal. Peter Sheridan, Chief Executive of Co-operation Ireland said "The Pride of Place Awards ceremony is an ideal opportunity for organisations to come together and learn from each other. This will be important as we prepare for the inevitable changes Brexit will bring to the island of Ireland. This evening, we have witnessed some of the finest examples of people working together to create a positive future and we all must continue to build on this so that Irish society as a whole can benefit. I congratulate everyone who was nominated but I extend special congratulations to those groups who were triumphant this evening". Michael Garvey, Chief Executive Officer of title sponsor IPB Insurance, reaffirmed his company's support for the competition, he said "The IPB Pride of Place awards is an ideal platform to recognise the positive social impacts being made in communities across the island of Ireland.

I would like to take this opportunity to commend all the communities involved for their spirit of collaboration and camaraderie in making it to the finals. It is also important to recognise the role of local authorities across the island of Ireland who work closely with their communities to support inspiring voluntary initiatives. These awards serve as one of the important ways that we can recognise those involved in working to make a difference in society". Cathaoirleach Cllr. Gerry McMonagle said "I am delighted that Donegal has been chosen to host of this prestigious awards ceremony and that we welcomed over 800 people to celebrate and recognise the wonderful contribution that community groups make to life in their own local areas all across the island of Ireland. This has been a great opportunity to showcase what Donegal has to offer and I hope all our visitors have had a wonderful experience and that they bring home with them fond memories of their trip to Donegal".

Full list of Winners and Runner ups

Main Competition Category One - Population Category 0-300
Winner - Attymass, Co. Mayo
Runner up - Bornacoola, Co. Leitrim
Runner up - Glenbeigh, Co. Kerry

Category Two - Population Category 300 – 1000
Winner -Latton & Bawn, Co. Monaghan
Runner up - Ballymacoda / Ladysbridge, Co. Cork
Runner up - Victoria Bridge Village, Co. Tyrone

Category Three – Population Category 1000 – 2000
Winner - Slane, Co. Meath
Runner up - Enniscrone, Co. Sligo
Runner up - Portlaw, Co. Waterford

Category Four - Population Category 2000 - 5000
Winner - Carrigtwohill, Co. Cork
Runner up - Dunleer, Co. Louth

Category Five - Population Category over 5000
Winner - Clonakilty, Co. Cork
Runner up -Trim, Co. Meath

Category Six – Community Based Youth Initiative
Winner - Galway County Comhairle na nÓg
Runner up - The Attic Youth Café, Longford Town
Runner up - Oasis Youth Club, Portadown

Category Seven – Creative Place Initiative
Winner - Comharchumann Forbartha Gaoth Dobhair, (Gweedore Co-operative), Co. Donegal
Runner up - Birr Theatre & Arts Centre, Co. Offaly
Runner up - Tallaght Community Arts, South Dublin County Council Area

Category Eight – Community Reaching Out Initiative
Winner - Maria Goretti Foundation, Co. Louth
Runner up - Kerry Social Farming Project
Runner up - Letterkenny Youth & Family Services, Co. Donegal

Category Nine – Housing Estates
Winner - Kiln Lane, Mountrath, Co. Laois
Runner up - Brawny Housing Estate, Athlone, Co. Westmeath
Runner up - St. Patrick's Villas, Castleconnell, Co. Limerick

Category Ten – Islands and Coastal Communities
Winner- Lady's Island Village, Co. Wexford
Runner up - Tory Island, Co. Donegal

Category Eleven – Urban Neighbourhoods
Winner -Newpark Close, Kilkenny City
Runner up - Ballyroan, South Dublin County Council Area
Runner up - Lisnamult, Roscommon Town
Cities Competition
Category One – Urban Neighbourhoods / Villages with a population under 1000
Winner - Lower Oldpark, Belfast
Runner up - The Courts, Ballymun, Dublin City

Category Two - Urban Neighbourhoods / Villages with a population of 1000 – 2000
Winner - Grange Woodbine, Raheny, Dublin City
Runner up - Blarney Street, Cork City

Category Three - Urban Neighbourhoods / Villages with a population over 2000
Winner - The Village Salthill, Galway City
Runner up - Seymour Hill and Conway, Lisburn, Co. Antrim

Category Four – Community Environmental Initiative
Winner - Bonfire Night Community Volunteers, Cork City
Runner up - Let's Get Galway Growing, Galway City

Category Five – Community Based Youth Initiative
Winner - Upper Springfield Youth Team, Belfast
Runner up - Dreamscheme Northern Ireland

Category Six – Social Inclusion and Equality Initiative
Winner - Back of the Pipes Residents Association
Flanagan's Fields Community Garden, Dublin City
Runner up - Newry Rainbow Community

Council Community Engagement Award
Winner - Fingal County Council

Special Awards

Fore, Co. Westmeath
Erica's Fairy Forest, Cootehill, Co Cavan
Seamus Ennis Arts Centre, the Naul, Fingal Council Area
Ballykeeffe Amphitheatre, Co. Kilkenny
CLG Cuar an Chláir Health & Wellbeing Team, Co. Clare
Barretstown Children's Charity, Co. Kildare

Kerry Social Farming Representatives meet with staff and representatives of Donegal LDC to present and discuss the Kerry Social Farming Project

A group of 15 people involved in the Kerry Social Farming Project met with staff from Donegal LDC on 2nd December in Letterkenny. The Kerry Social Farming group were in Donegal for the Pride of Place Awards. In attendance from Kerry Social Farming were host farmers (Ger, Mary Anne and Tim o Sullivan, Dessy Cronin (also a parent), George Kelly, Christy and Mary McDonnell), participants (Martin Sheehan, Earl Leahy, Brendan O Sullivan, Mags O' Donoghue), working group members (Kevin Griffin (SKDP), Angie Smith (SJOG), Julie Brosnan (SKDP, Kerry Social Farming Administrative Support and Helena Switzer (Kerry County Council/SICAP)), and the KSF facilitator Irene Kavanagh. In attendance from Donegal LDC was CEO Padraic Fingleton, along with RSS/Tus/SICAP managers and supervisors. Councillor Ian McGarvey a member of the Board of Donegal Local Development Company was also present Following a presentation made to the group on the Kerry Social Farming Project and how SKDP developed the project, there was a very positive informal Q&A and discussion session on various aspects of the KSFP and how to implement same in Donegal.

Pride of Place Judging Panel visit to Co. Kerry on 10th July, 2017

The adjudication for IPB Pride of Place 2017 took place in Co Kerry on Monday, 10th July, 2017. This is the 15th Year of the IPB Pride of Place competition, an all island competition, hosted by Co-operation Ireland under its Local Authority Programme. The competition focus is on people coming together to showcase all that is good about their area or project. Kerry County Council nominates communities or groups in recognition of the work being done to create viable, vibrant and visible communities. This year Kerry County Council has nominated two projects to the Pride of Place competition, each of which has come through the Kerry Community Awards process. The Groups are:

1. The Kerry Social Farming Project: under the Category "Community Reaching Out Initiative". The Kerry Social Farming Project provides people with disabilities (participants) the opportunity to engage with ordinary farm families and the farming community in meeting their personal life choices, thus promoting social inclusion and improved quality of life. The project operates as a voluntary model, whereby host farmers offer their time freely to enable participants engage in their farming activities and thus the wider rural community. Farmers are the heart and soul of rural Ireland and are very well placed to support inclusion of marginalised individuals in the rural community. This voluntary model has been highly successful to date and is crucial for the sustainable development of the project and important for developing real relationships. All the host farmers are enthusiastic about and deeply committed to the project, citing it as a wholly rewarding experience for them as they in turn become more engaged in their community.

2. The Glenbeigh Community Council under the Population Category 0 - 300 Glenbeigh is cosily tucked into the surrounding horseshoe of hills. The Caragh and Behy Rivers flow at either side of the village into Castlemaine Harbour. Beautiful blue flag Rossbeigh Beach boasts six miles of sand. Community spirit is palpable as evidenced by the work of Tidy Towns, walkway development, sporting achievements and responses to challenges posed by coastal erosion and rural decline. This community appreciates the natural environment and is building on this asset. The community has developed enviable sporting infrastructure including a football pitch and a community hall. Local activities include walking, fishing, surfing, kayaking and horse trekking on Rossbeigh Beach. A recent achievement includes Glenbeigh-Glencar's memorable AIB All-Ireland junior club football championship final success at Croke Park. However it is the hospitality and friendliness of the people that matters most and the manner in which the community takes care of those who live in and visit this lovely place.

Volunteers in each of the communities have been busy planning and preparing for the visits. Staff members of Kerry County Council's Community and Enterprise Department have been meeting with the groups to advise on the adjudication process and to generally assist where possible. The Kerry County Council's Local Area offices have also been very supportive of the event working together with the Local Development Companies. The judges spent between two and half-hours and three hours with each project during which the group was required to make a 20 minutes formal presentation, and undergo a question and answer session.

In addition to ensuring that the areas are looking well, each community has been identifying their strengths and the projects that they are proud of and wish to show off to the judges. All projects are worthy entrants and the judges were very impressed on the day. The IPB Pride of Place 2017 winners will be announced at the Awards Ceremony in Co Donegal in December 2017.

Contacts: KCC contacts –Helena Switzer 066 7183552. Owen O'Shea 0667183826
Glenbeigh Community Council: Vera O'Sullivan: 08702359618

Kerry Social Farming at the Burren Winterage School 26th-29th October 2017

A group of nine host farmers (Ger & Mary Anne O Sullivan, Patricia Kelliher, Dessy Cronin, George Kelly, Eamon Horgan, Breeda O Sullivan, Christy & Mary McDonnell), participant (David Cronin) from the Kerry Social Farming Project, along with Kerry Social Farming Facilitator Irene Kavanagh were invited to attend the Burren Winterage School 2017 in Ballyvaughan Co Clare by Dr Brendan Dunford (Burren Programme) and Brigid Barry (Burren Beo Trust). Irene Kavanagh gave a presentation on the Kerry Social Farming Project to the delegates on October 26th followed by host farmers answering questions on the project. The group from Kerry Social Farming attended the presentations on the 27th and attended the farming innovation fair and farm demonstration walk on Saturday 28th October 2017. The trip was a hugely successful knowledge transfer event with ample opportunity to discuss social farming and High Nature Value (HNV) Farming. The host farmers thoroughly enjoyed attending the Burren Winterage School and found it highly informative. Likewise the feedback from the delegates on the Kerry Social Farming Project was highly positive with a lot of interest shown in establishing social farming.

Kerry Social Farming attend the National Ploughing Championships 2017 in Tullamore, Co. Offaly 19th-21st September 2017

In attendance: Host Farmers - Gerard O'Sullivan, Helen O Mahony, Christy and Mary McDonnell, Eamonn Horgan (Kerry Social Farming Working Group), George Kelly (Kerry Social Farming Working Group), Dessy Cronin (Kerry Social Farming Working Group)

Other Working Group Members: Angie Smith (St John of God Kerry Services), Kevin Griffin (Down Syndrome Kerry and South Kerry Development Partnership)

Participants - Amy O Dea, Tim Heffernan, Mags O Donoghue, David Cronin, Brendan O Sullivan (with his father James), Claire Spillane (with her father John), Earl Leahy.

Supporting Staff: - Batt Healy and Marie Linehan (CEO Kerry Parents & Friends Association)

Kerry Social Farming Staff - Irene Kavanagh (Kerry Social Farming Project Facilitator) Joseph McCrohan (Kerry Social Farming Project Manager, SKDP Rural Development, RSS & Tus Manager) Members of the Kerry Social Farming Project attended the National Ploughing Championships 2017 over the course of the three days. The Go Kerry tent kindly hosted the Kerry Social Farming stand and included other companies and representatives from Kerry, including Go Kerry , Tralee Chamber Alliance and IRD Duhallow CLG. In particular, two of our host farmers travelled ahead of the main group and set up the KSFP stand as well as being there for the three days to ensure the stand was manned. Kerry Social Farming partners Local Link Kerry supported KSFP in providing transport to and from the event the first day. Also availing of transport to and from the ploughing on day one were members of the North East West Kerry Development company CLG farm families committee, and it was a great opportunity for them to learn more about the project. The Garda Community Bus provided the transport on the second day and were extremely supportive given the adverse weather conditions that day. There was huge interest in the project from the general public, farming community, politicians, and even celebrities! Information leaflets, and copies of the Kerry Social Evaluation Report were distributed at the event

Watch a clip of host farmer Ger O Sullivan getting his ‘brain hacked' by the infamous Keith Barry at the National Ploughing Championship 2017!

Kerry Social Farming at the South Kerry Ploughing Championships, Fossa Co. Kerry, 14th September 2017

In attendance: Host Farmers - Gerard & Mary Anne O'Sullivan, Helen O Mahony, Christy and Mary McDonnell, Eamonn Horgan (Kerry Social Farming Working Group), George Kelly (Kerry Social Farming Working Group)

Other Working Group Members: Claire Vinten (Kerry Parents & Friends Association), Kevin Griffin (Down Syndrome Kerry and South Kerry Development Partnership)

Participant: Donagh O Sullivan

Kerry Social Farming Staff: Irene Kavanagh (Kerry Social Farming Project Facilitator) Joseph McCrohan (Kerry Social Farming Project Manager and SKDP Rural Development, RSS & Tus Manager)

The Kerry Social Farming Project was well represented at the South Kerry Ploughing Championships in September 2017. There was a lot of interest from the farming community and members of the public in general. The event was an ideal opportunity for host farmers to promote the project and inform the farming community how social farming operates and what motivates them to get involved in the project.

Kerry Social Farming Open Day, Evaluation Report Launch and Host Farm Walk 7th July 2017, Host Farm: George Kelly, Hazelfort Farm, Ballymalis, Beaufort, Co. Kerry

The launch of the Kerry Social Farming Evaluation Report took place on one of the Kerry Social Farming host farms in July 2017. There was a large turnout of almost 300 people who were representative of a whole cross section of the wider community. The purposes of the event was for Minister Creed, Minister for the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine to officially launch the Kerry Social Evaluation Report and to present the key findings of the report to the Minister and the wider farming, statutory, public representative, research, educational, and social care communities, along with persons with disabilities and their families and the general public as a whole. Thus, the launch was geared toward raising awareness, particularly of the benefits and the success of KSF, driven by bottom up community collaborative spirit; highlighting the issues relating to the requirement for the long term investment into KSF going forward; and to provide a platform to present the research based findings of the KSF project, the multitude of benefits from the project along with key recommendations.

Above all it provided guests with the opportunity to meet those who are at the heart of the project, the host farmers and the participants and to experience what the project is about from them in their own words. The day involved guests arriving and meeting and greeting on the farm, and going on an extended host farm walk around the farm. The positive atmosphere was enhanced by a large marquee on the farm to accommodate guests, refreshments, a buffet lunch for all, and a local family, the local musical family, the Kellihers entertained guests with traditional music on the day. The host farm walk consisted of different stations, 6 in total: host farmers and farm families, participants, families of participants, partner service providers and support workers, mixed group (host farmers, participants, families, support workers) and SoFI also had an information stand on site to inform guests about the national social farming project SoFI. Information boards marked the host farm walk so as to further illustrate KSF to the guests.

The large 4x4, colourful information boards consisted of providing general background information about KSF and social farming in general, as well as quotes taken from the interview transcripts that were included in the KSF Evaluation Report, consisting of quotes from host farmers, participants, families and support staff, placed at the respective stations (see Appendix 16 for an example of one of the boards, which is a large welcome information board that was placed at the entrance to the farm near the road, along with a large Pride of Place sign, so as to inform arriving guests of the farm location). The KSF host farm walk signs were placed at the entrance to the farm and the farm yard (Appendix 1b). The host farm walk at the launch day gave guests the opportunity to get a real understanding about the project. Minister Creed, DAFM, also was taken on the host farm walk, along with Sean Kelly MEP who were accompanied by George Kelly (KSF Working Group Chairperson), Noel Spillane (SKDP CEO), Joseph McCrohan (Rural Development Manager SKDP). Minister Creed took great time to talk to farmers, participants, families and support workers to learn more about the project. As well as all those directly involved in KSF, host farmers, participants and working group members, there was a great turnout of families, and partner agency personnel, along with many service users interested in undertaking social farming.

Rural Social Scheme staff (supervisors and participants) from SKDP were vital to ensure the smooth running on the day, from manning the registration, to the car park, to guiding guests on the host farm walks. The cross section of guests included Kerry Local Community Development Committee representatives, Kerry County Council representatives, along with TDs, and Kerry County Council elected members. Representatives from businesses such as Community Finance Ireland, the Kerry Group and FEXCO and the IFA were also in attendance, along with the Department of Social Protection and the HSE. Farmers who were interested in social farming were also present. A bus, supported by Local Link Kerry, transported interested farmers from North Kerry/Listowel area (organised by Dave Fitzgibbon NEWKD and KSF Working Group member) along with SJOG service users, their families and staff. Agencies that are not currently a member of KSF Shared Services came on the day with interested service users: Cope, An Cuan, National Learning Network, Rehab Care, and Kerry Mental Health. Educational representatives were also present on the day from Kerry Education Training Board, Mary Immaculate College, University College Cork and Limerick Institute of Technology.

Representatives of other Local Developments and Social Farming Ireland were also present. The presentations were given by Gloria O Driscoll (Chairperson of SKDP), who highlighted the involvement of SKDP and the governance of Kerry Social Farming. Following a welcome address by Chairperson and host farmer George Kelly, Joseph McCrohan, who has been involved in the Kerry Social Farming Project since the beginning, outlined the establishment and development of the project. Dr Brendan O Keeffe gave a presentation on the evaluation of Kerry Social Farming, highlighting that Kerry Social Farming "…offers people with disabilities greater choice and greater options and opportunities for progression and self-actualisation. It does so in meaningful and constructive way'.

Additional speeches were made by Pat Spillane (Ambassador for the Action Plan for Rural Ireland, who also wrote a Foreword for the report) and MEP Sean Kelly. Various representatives of social farming, gave their input regarding their involvement with the project: Ger O Sullivan (host farmer), Earl Leahy (participant), John Spillane (parent) and Domonic Kiely (support worker, St John of God Kerry Services) The moving video on Kerry Social Farming which was filmed on Eamonn Horgan's farm (see link here: was also shown to Minister Creed and the wider audience and was very well received. Eamon Horgan (host farmer), Mags O' Donoghue (Participant) and Tim Heffernan (Participant) had the opportunity to reflect on how important social farming is to them. Minister Creed, Minister for the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine, gave the final speech. The Minister stated that he was very pleased to be at the launch because real inclusion is about action rather than words and that Kerry Social Farming and SKDP are more about actions than words.

Minister Creed said it was a humbling experience to walk through the farm and meet all those involved who make it happen, including the participants and host farmers and that it's a fantastic example of collaboration. He also stated that the findings from KSF Evaluation Report will help inform social farming in Kerry and nationally. Overall, the feedback on the day was highly positive and a lot of effort over several months was put into making it the success that it was. Videos of the day (highlights and ‘complete version' with all speeches) are on YouTube, which can be accessed here.

Two key messages from the launch and Kerry Social Farming Evaluation Report are that social farming works and that the Kerry Social Farming Project requires more long term sustainable funding. South Kerry Development Partnership CLG distributed a press release to all mainstream local/nation press and media, following the launch of the report. Further coverage of the launch can be accessed here & here.

Preparations for the Launch of the Kerry Social Farming Evaluation Report and Visit by Minister Michael Creed, Minister for the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine.

The big day took many months of preparation and planning. The collaborative strength of the Kerry Social Farming Working Group, host farmers, participants, families, the SKDP Rural Social Scheme staff, which epitomises Kerry Social Farming and Rural Vibrancy, came to the fore in getting ready for the event. A farm meitheal on Hazelfort Farm ensured the farm was prepared for the event. This meithael comprised of two of our host farmers Eamon Horgan and Ger O Sullivan, with their participants, who put great effort on the farm in order to ensure it was ready for the event and to help upgrade the farm in terms of health and safety and making the area suitable for the host farm walks. The SKDP RSS supervisors, participants and Tus participants also helped get the farm area ready. Concrete was laid in the farm yard, not just for the purposes of the launch but was also recommended following a farm safety audit, for ease of access and safety of farm participants. Likewise a sliding door replaced a swinging door for participant safety. The agency support staff and participants, also put great work in getting the registration area ready, and in setting up the host farm walk stations.

Busy morning on Hazelfort (George Kelly's) Farm preparing farmyard ground for concreting in preparation for the Kerry Social Evaluation Report Launch and also that participants can sure footedly carry out jobs on the farm: we had a meitheal gathering involving two other host farmers' Eamonn Horgan (Kilgarvan) and Ger O' Sullivan (Cahersiveen) along with Participant Earl Leahy who avails of Kerry Parents and Friends Service in Tigh an Oileain, Valentia Island and attends Ger's Farm on Mondays. The lads are busy helping out George, his two participants Amy and Martin (who avail of St John of Gods Services, Killarney) and support worker Dominic Kiely and Jer Horgan who works on the farm too. Support was also provided by South Kerry Development Partnership staff Paddy Casey and Donal Foley. Kerrys Eye reporter Sinead Kelliher was there too finding all about the project! Exciting morning, the cattle, ducks and collies were all mad keen to get in on the photo shoot as well!! The funding for this important Health & Safety farm upgrade is supported by Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas (CEDRA) funding from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

View video here.

The Kerry Social Farming Project are the Overall Winners of the Kerry Community Awards 2017, Dromhall Hotel Killarney 18th May 2017

Press Releases.