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.
Sadly Ger passed away in November 2021. His loss will be felt greatly by his family and community and by the many people whose lives he touched through his tireless advocacy for social farming.
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 are currently two participants from SJOG and three participants from KPFA. Following initial 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. New gates were installed to make it safer for participants when moving cattle. A polytunnel was recently put in place which is now a great centre of activity. This work was funded by KSF-DAFM. 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.
Patricia and Anthony Kelliher run a beef farm and also have bucket rearing dairy calves. Vincent 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 Kelliher farm. Vincent likes the tasks of measuring marking and cutting the steel under Anthony guidance to make pens for the calves. 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 be opened and closed safely. Other activities have included piking silage, cleaning sheds and dosing cattle. Farm upgrades in 2017, funded by 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 was purchased to provide different activities for the participant and enhance the social farm offer. A creep feeder for calves along with an accompanying weighing scale was purchased to enable Vincent to safely feed the calves. Vincent worked alongside the farmer, writing down the weight of the calves and Patricia taught Vincent how much feed to give to 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. The Kellihers are resuming shortly after a break from social farming during which. Vincent was able to go to a nearby host farm.
Christy and Mary have a suckler cow and sheep farm about four miles outside Cahersiveen. They provide social farming opportunities for Ellen O’Donoghue and Cathal Moriarty every week. Earl Leahy also moved temporarily to the farm during Autumn and early Winter 2021. There is plenty of work to be done including fencing, looking after livestock, feeding animals indoor in the winter, cleaning sheds before and after calving, maintaining equipment and cutting fire wood. The polytunnel is also a hive of activity, getting ready for the coming season. The polytunnel and other farm safety upgrades were funded by DAFM. Owen O’Connor began on with McDonnells in summer 2022 having previously been at Joy farm at Killorglin.
Éamon is a long-standing host farmer and 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. He has supported a number of participants including Mags, Tim and Liam. In addition, Éamon also facilitated an Applied Leaving Cert student from Kenmare Community School to avail of work experience on his farm. OisIn has been keen to go social farming for some time and was delighted to come to Kilgarvan in Spring 2022. He is settling in well and he and Éamon are being kept busy with the lambing and calving season.
Breda has been attending O’Sullivan’ farm on Tuesdays for a number of years now. Host farmer Breeda provides transport as part of the social car scheme which is operated collaboratively between Kerry Social Farming and Local Link Kerry. Despite the fact that Breda has never done any farm work previously, she has gotten very well on the farm, with great support from the host farm family. Farming activities that Breda partakes in include feeding and marking sheep, fencing, checking the cattle along with gardening and baking. Fencing near the entrance of the farm yard was improved on for the safety of the participant, along with roofing in one of the sheds, supported by CEDRA funding from DAFM. Breeda hosted a successful farm walk in April 2018, as well as part of the launch event for UCC Certificate in Practice Support in Social Farming in November 2019. A yard area adjacent to the farmhouse was upgraded during 2021 to provide a safe outdoor roofed space, so that Breeda can continue to enjoy social farming throughout the winter.
Joan Brosnan joined the team at Castleisland Community Garden in 2020 when it was a venue for social farming. Previously Willie Reidy was host there with Claire Rohan attending. Martin began social farming in 2019 and Joan initially supported him in Castleisland. She now supports him at her own farm in Cordal. Martin was very active with Kerry Eco-Social Farming project during 2022 and designed their project logo.
John is a sheep farmer at Blackwater in the scenic and renowned Black Valley area. John began as host farmer in September 2018 with Daniel Cronin and support worker Jim O’ Mahony. Joseph McCrohan (SKDP Rural Development/KSF Manager) and Irene Kavanagh (then KSF Facilitator) carried out a farm Health and Safety assessment 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 with DAFM funding. Daniel has moved and since early 2020 James Cullinane has been coming to the farm with his support worker Damian from Studio3 service. James is involved in all aspects of farm life including feeding and checking sheep and fowl, fencing work, cleaning yards and sheds. John hosted a successful farm walk for host farmers in July 2021. In autumn 2021 another James began coming to the farm from Killarney. James Kenny is supported by John Flynn (KPFA) and is settling in well to all aspects of farm life.
Mary operates a mixed farm enterprise near Ballyduff in North Kerry. She has dairy cattle, sucklers and sheep. Stephen Faley and Seamus McCarthy attend St John of God Services at Listowel. 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 funded by DAFM 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. Mary’s farm has been on hold in recent times and we look forward to it being back in action soon.
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 were the first social farming participants at Gortbrack in 2018. Bryan O’Shea and Kevin McNamara (also SJOG) began at Gortbrack in May 2019 and attend with their support workers. Tomás Fitzmaurice attended during 2020/2021 and now goes to Manna Organic Farm. Ian and Eileen hosted a farm walk for host farmers in September 2020.
Rena Blake and Lisa Fingleton have a small holding at Barna, Ballybunion and grow a wide variety of vegetables and fruit with an emphasis on organic and sustainable growth. Bronagh Enright and Antoinette O’Sullivan have been coming to the farm since 2018. An initial safety audit was carried out in Rena’s farm and upgrades implemented. 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 and improvements made to the access road. Rena hosted a very successful KSF Open Day in October 2018. Participants engage in activities such as potting, planting inside the polytunnel and in outside beds, watering plants and also workshop activities. John O’Connor came to Barna in 2019. Eoghan O'Domhnaill (Studio 3) has resumed social farming having attended here during 2021. Katie McNamara joined the team at Barna during 2022. You can find out more about this unique farm at https://lisafingleton.com/project/the-barna-way/
Maura runs Maura’s Cottage Flowers in Ballyroe, just outside Tralee, with her husband Tommy. They grow flowers using organic methods in their polytunnels and provide floral arrangements for all occasions. Vanessa Meehan, Siobhan Quirke and Ciara Corridon avail of services with Skills Plus at St John of God, Ashe St., Tralee and come to Maura’s each week. Cormac Galvin is the support worker. An initial safety audit was done with input from St. John of God staff and improvement works were identified, including the laying of a new footpath to improve access to lower polytunnel and installation of handrail. A customised polytunnel was installed in 2020 with funding from DAFM. More recently Vanessa, Ciara and Siobhan, with assistance from Cormac and Tommy, have fenced off an area to be put aside for social farming, which they are maintaining and working on their own ideas about how it will look and function. Further work planned includes putting up a bird house, installing a bench and table for having picnic lunches and tea breaks in Spring and Summer, as well as weeding, fertilising and planting seasonal flowers in the raised bed. An archway is now in place for growing climbing roses. You can find out more about Maura’s Cottage Flowers here https://www.maurascottageflowers.ie/about/
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. James and David have now moved to another location with their service provider.
Rebecca O'Brien began coming to Irene in Spring 2020 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 Rebecca to keep a visual diary of their activities on the farm. Daniel Casey is a student from Coláiste na Sceilige, Cahirsiveen and currently visits as part of his work experience.
Tom and his wife Margaret have begun a new chapter in their lives. They are developing a very special social inclusion centre in their farm outside Tralee. This will encompass a horticulture project, orchard, fruit and berry gardens and beekeeping. Tom and Margaret have a son Ciaran, who has been the main inspiration and driving force behind this project. Tom installed a polytunnel with some raised beds with the support of DAFM funding through KSF. Anthony and Shane began coming to Scotia Glen during the summer of 2021. During 2022, David Cronin joined the team, having moved from South Kerry. Anthony Ward is also social farming now, with transport support from Tom using the social car model.
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,is 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. Since October 2021 Daniel Casey a student from Coláiste na Sceilige, Cahirsiveen comes to the farm as part of his work experience.
Mike has been interviewed by both TG4 and Raidió na Gaeltachta about his involvement in social farming. There is a link to TG4 interview here: https://twitter.com/MOLSCEAL/status/1425144062768779270
Mike also hosted the FARCURA National Social Farming Conference in September 2021. See the Conference presentations at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y65W0avCcxQ
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. Tomás moved here from another host farm in 2021. Thomas and Claire hosted the launch of Kerry Eco-Social Farming project by Minister Pippa Hackett TD on their farm in May 2022.
Billy Jo began hosting participant Patrick, who attends SJOG service in Listowel, in April 2021. Leagh Farm grows salad leaves, seasonal vegetables and seasonal Irish fruit and also has two polytunnels so there is lots of activity. They also keep free range chickens and all their produce is sold through a box scheme and at Ballybunion Community Market. The farm is currently in the process of organic conversion. Tim Heffernan now also comes to this farm from Listowel centre.
Noel is based at Kilcummin, near Killarney, where Tara attends the KPFA service. Noel began with Kerry Social Farming in June 2021 and has settled in well to social farming routine. Liam began on Noel’s farm in August 2021 and Batt Brosnan (SJOG) supports him. Farm safety improvements done include the replacement of a swing door on one of the sheds with a sliding door. A polytunnel was installed to provide new activities for participants, with work being done with the assistance of DAFM funding and labour from SKDP TUS workers. Breeda O’Sullivan (Glencar) an experienced host farmer, supported Noel in earlier stages of his time as host farmer. This was very positive input from Breeda who graduated from UCC Certificate in Practice Support in Social Farming in 2020. Noel is now part of social car scheme and provides transport for Tara to and from the farm and other social farming events.
Yvonne & Sigi have opened up Blueberry Hill farm near Sneem to Kerry Social Farming since June 2021. There is so much to see and learn from on the farm, so Emma and her support worker Amanda McCarthy are kept busy. Emma adores the rabbits as well as helping to feed the calves and sheep. Emma, Yvonne, Amanda and Kerry Social Farming team were pleased to host Grace O’Sullivan MEP and Cleo Murphy (Green Party Kerry) when they visited Blueberry Hill Farm, in October 2021. It was a very informative and worthwhile day as Grace learned more about Kerry Social Farming and took part in Emma’s social farming day. Peter Murray who attends Rehabcare service began coming to Blueberry Hill farm in late 2021. Farm safety improvements being supported by DAFM include upgrading of paths and parking area for the safety and comfort of participants. Yvonne and Sigi are currently on a break from social farming but it’s hoped they will resume in due course.
Jan & Karen waited patiently throughout the Covid-19 restrictions to commence social farming in picturesque Glenflesk. The local KSF facilitator Evelyn O’Connell supported them to take the step of becoming social farmers once circumstances permitted. Mohammed Al Salah attends the KPFA service in Killarney and began social farming in late June 2021. Mohammed is getting stuck into the farm work; helping out with the chickens, gathering wood and helping with the garden. With funding from DAFM, a polytunnel was put in place so there is more growing activity on the farm. Tracey McCarthy re-joined social farming in June 2022, having previously attended at a farm in South Kerry.
Seamus, Nora & James Howard have welcomed Roger McCarthy and Noel Murphy (KPFA support worker) onto their dairy and beef farm in Bawnglanna, Currow. Roger is enjoying spending time with the dogs and helping Seamus with milking the cows; bringing the cows in from the field, watching all the workings of the milking parlour and helping to feed/entice the cows into their sections for milking. With funding support from DAFM, the Howards have built a chicken coop on the farm. In line with his personal goals, Roger will take responsibility for collecting the eggs, feeding the chickens and cleaning out for the coop. Nora is now taking on role as primary support on the farm with Noel stepping back. Social farming on the Howard farm featured in Kerry Agribusiness Newsletter for March 2023 https://www.kerryagribusiness.ie/newsletters
James is based in Lerrig, Ardfert and is mainly a potato and turnip grower but also has suckler cattle and a small flock of sheep. James Moriarty did some farming with Joe during 2021, having previously attended another farm some time ago. Mike O’Connor now attends supported by KPFA Service in Listowel and Rehabcare. Mike comes from a farming background himself and enjoys the variety of activities on the farm, from feeding the calves and tending to sheep to working on vegetable growing. Joe completed the UCC Certificate in Practice Support in Social Farming in 2021.
Liz and John have a beautiful holding just outside Ballyduff with thatch cottages, herb and vegetable gardens, a polytunnel and a small farm shop. They produce a range of Irish skincare products that incorporate organic skin enhancing flowers, medicinal herbs and seaweed, harvested from the Irish Atlantic coastline. Their company, Íon Organics, is a family run, artisan creator, of natural bath and beauty products. They are committed to organic farming and, organic products. Helen began attending with Liz in August 2021 and is learning about all the background work which goes into producing these beautiful natural products.
Amanda and Peter have a sheep farm and also produce honey, using the brand name ‘My Kerry Honey’. Both Peter and Amanda completed the UCC Certificate in Practice Support in Social Farming in 2021. Cian began attending the farm in summer 2021 and is being supported by Resilience staff. He is now settling in well to this new activity.
Sandy Feet farm is a family run open farm situated in a rural setting near the village of Camp on the main Tralee-Dingle Road, taking the Conor Pass route. It is set in the most stunning location surrounded by mountains and bounded by wetlands and a long, wide sandy beach. It has something for everyone that visits, and depending on the time of year. There are various rare breed farm animals and a sensory garden and interactive garden. Eleanor and Roy are the owners of Sandy Feet. Social farming resumed in August 2021 after a break, with Sharon Sheehan a participant from National Learning Network (NLN) Tralee attending. Sharon attended until 2022 and Johnny then came here, supported by RehabCare. Sandy Feet Farm hosted the closing event for Kerry Eco-Social Farming Project in March 2023.
Dawn and her family live just outside Tralee. She runs a very quaint and unique smallholding. This farm has years of history chiselled into its banks as a section of property contains an old quarry on site. The old quarry basin is the home to a polytunnel and vegetable garden area. Dawn is a keen gardener and grower, growing mostly in raised beds outdoors. Dawn worked with past participants Joe Joe and Mark who enjoyed feeding the alpacas and grooming and feeding the donkeys. It is hoped that another participant will have an opportunity to begin here very soon.
Bernie and Muiris O’Donoghue run a busy dairy farm on beautiful Valentia Island. Their daughter Ellen already goes social farming at McDonnell’s in Foilmore. Guided by this experience, they began social farming in February 2022, with Patrick coming to them from Tigh an Oileain. Patrick is settling in and is well versed on feeding calves, cattle and other farm tasks.
Mary has a suckler farm at Inch in scenic Kilcummin, just east of Killarney. She brings a wealth of experience to social farming as she cares for her son John also. Pat began coming to the farm in February 2022 and he and John are forming a great bond as they work together on all the farm tasks. Pat is an experienced farmer having visited Mary Walsh’s farm in Killarney for a number of years. Mary graduated from UCC Certificate in Practice Support in Social Farming Course in March 2023.
Bernie was inspired to join social farming as a result of attending the FARCURA social farming Conference which was held in South Kerry in September 2021. She made contact with KSF facilitator Evelyn O’Connell and the process of farm assessment and matching Bernie with a participant got underway. Aoife is supported by KPFA Community programme and began farming in January. The social car model, operated in association with Local Link Kerry, helps Bernie transport Aoife to and from the farm on her social farming days. Aoife helps Bernie with tasks around her home and garden and enjoys spending time with Bernie. Bernie graduated from UCC Certificate in Practice Support in Social Farming Course in March 2023.
Alan ‘Zeb’ Lawlor is a host farmer based near Listowel. He and his wife Margaret graduated from UCC Certificate in Practice Support in Social Farming course in March 2023. Zeb is an organic vegetable producer supplying many restaurants in the local area and farmers markets Listowel and Ballybunion. Three participants began social farming with Zeb in April 2022, Katie Mc Namara, Dale O Carroll and JP O'Brien, supported by a SJOG staff member each week. With the help of DAFM funding, paths were improved and outdoor raised beds created for participant activity. Katie is now on Barna farm with Dale having moved to a different service while JP continues to attend here.
The Shannow Family Resource Centre in Abbeydorney has hosted a number of social farming participants over the years and activity resumed in March 2022, with Claire Walsh and Brian Horgan taking the reins from Denis Burns. The Centre has a polytunnel and raised beds ideal for growing fruit, vegetables and flowers. James Moriarty supported by Rehabcare is now coming to Shannow, having previously attended with Joe Walsh and Irene Brune.
Mary has joined social farming in summer 2022 and is very lucky to have an experienced social farming participant, Patrick, to help her settle into the project!
Mary has a variety of farming skills and knowledge to offer social farming; she has a suckler farm, goats, hens amongst other animals, a vegetable garden as well as a great team of children who are as keen to be involved as host farmers too.
James has started social farming with Paul & Annette at The Kerry Creamery Experience, Listry (www.thekerrycreameryexperience.ie). James has lots to do here with a variety of animals; ponies, calves, donkey, goats and hens. James will help with feeding the animals, cleaning out their pens as well as helping with the gardening and flowers around the creamery. With support from DAFM, accessible raised beds were put in place so that James can plant his own flowers and vegetables as part of his social farming day. Paul and Annette hosted a successful open day for Social Farming Awareness Week in early October 2022.
John and Catherine have opened up their dairy farm in the beautiful location of Muckross, Killarney to social farming. Vincent Keogh who has been waiting for an opportunity to engage in social farming is delighted to have this opportunity. Vincent helps with feeding the cattle in the shed and helping John to move the cows back to the fields/shed after milking. Vincent will also play a role in bucket feeding calves in the Spring time. Vincent is supported by Batt Brosnan who is a support worker well experienced in social farming.
Mary and Robbie Griffin are based just outside Dingle town and began social farming in October. There are three participants visiting this sheep and suckler farms from Saint John of God services in Dingle town. Tommy Kennedy, Anne Marie Russell and Tara Moran all visit with their support worker and are settling in well.
Noranne and her husband Mike run a beef suckler and horse farm just outside Castlemaine. They have horses along with chickens, goats, pet rabbits and guinea pigs. This means there will be a great variety of jobs for participants each week. Cody and Kyle come from Inspired Service and are now attending each week.
The Comhchoiste have recently joined forces with KSF to provide social farming at their base in Ceann Eich, between Ballinskelligs and Waterville. Marjanneke Van Den Hove is host farmer here and Sean has moved from another farm to begin social farming here. He is settling in well and we hope this marks the beginning of a wonderful collaboration.
Lisa O’Sullivan has a suckler farm near Killorglin. Social farming began on this farm in January 2023, having been delayed from December due to adverse weather. Seamus O’Connor and Robert McCarron, supported by St John of God service Killorglin are now attending and it is the first-time social farming for both of them. They are both settling in well to farming activities.
Séan Kennedy, Dun Sion, Dingle began social farming in February 2023. He became interested in the project having encountered KSF host farmers who spoke at a Teagasc Dairy Farm walk in Lispole in late 2022. Séan then decided to become a host famer. He has a small dairy herd and milks twice a day. Michael Ryan, a resident in the local Camphill Community Service, comes to the Kennedy farm. Camphill is a short distance from the farm and both men have known each other over a number of years. This is lovely example of links between Social Farming and local communities working together.
Dessy Cronin, Ballinskelligs
Ger & Catherine Joy, Killorglin
Helen O’Mahony, Castleisland
Mary Walsh, Killarney.
Laura Collins, Abbeyeydorney
Eithne Riordan, Dromid.