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Project to set up care farms is reaping rewards

Wednesday, 16th June 2010.

People who would normally receive day or residential care could end up helping local farms become more viable in a new intiative from Suffolk County Council.

Building on a Dutch idea, the council has already seen two 'care farms' established, one near Stowmarket and one at Woodbridge, and is looking to have ten up and running across the county by March next year.

Work by the council’s adult community services to establish a network of care farms throughout Suffolk is progressing fast.

For a county with a strong agricultural tradition, the council thinks there are clear benefits in drawing on the farming heritage and combining the care of the land with the care of people.

In a break away from traditional day and residential care, the scheme provides opportunities for disadvantaged people to do meaningful work, learn new skills and feel valued.

First developed in the Netherlands as a way of diversifying for farmers and their families, care farms help promote mental as well as physical health and wellbeing.

By performing tasks such as looking after animals or tending vegetables, care farms help people to reconnect with nature and their communities which in turn offers them a pathway towards recovery, progression and social inclusion.

Doeke Dobma from the East Anglia Care Farmers Group has been successful in promoting the model of care farming among colleague farmers and matching aspirant care farmers with stroke survivors, carers and people with mental health problems.

He said: "Farming has become very remote from society and the role of farmers as main employers in rural communities has been marginalised due to mechanisation and external competitive pressures.

"More and more farmers work long hours with sometimes little contact with the rest of their community.

"Care farming, with the right understanding and expectation, can overcome isolation and could give farmers a new desire with additional financial income as care provider to keep farming with the inclusion of disadvantaged people on their farm."

Colin Noble, the council’s portfolio holder for adult community services said: “We are always looking at new and innovative ways to help people overcome difficulties they are experiencing in their everyday lives by encouraging a ‘can do’ approach and try new activities.

"We know care farms can have a really positive impact on people’s lives and help them develop a strong sense of achievement.”

Haverhill Online News

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Haverhill, UKPosted by HANDBAG at 9:45AM on 18th June, 2010. (212.169.xxx.xxx)

This seems like a really imaginative idea, real 'care in the community'. Personally, I find gardening is the most therapeutic thing I ever do, hard work, but totally absorbing and relaxing, so this looks like a brilliant scheme.


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