Trainees reaping benefits of farm life
The benefits of getting out in the fresh air in the countryside are well known and now an innovative programme which gives people the opportunity to work on a farm is reaping benefits.
Well-known Cooley farmer Matthew McGreehan is welcoming participants of the Social Farming programme onto his farm at Creagh Ard, Glenmore.
Social farming has been proven to be effective for participants across a range of services including intellectual disability, mental health, long term unemployed and at risk youths as well as those using addiction services.
Having originally taken part in a pilot scheme or the programme back in 2013, Matthew is delighted that he has been able to offer participants the opportunity to increase their self esteem and improve their health and well-being by taking part in day to day farm activities on a family farm.
'We invite up to three participants to come to our farm one day per week over a period of 10 to 15 weeks and all our participants, who come from a wide range of services, have found the whole experience of benefit to them.'
He explains that they get a chance to learn about sheep farming life and take part in activities that give them a sense of achievement and job satisfaction.
'We share our knowledge of the heritage and cultural traditions on our farm and in our area.'
Matthew also encourages participants to really look at the stunning views from the mountains to the sea. 'I think that our farm and the animals we work with are a great way to give our participants a real sense of nature and I think that this all contributes to the whole experience and enhances their lives'
People taking part in the Social Farming programme also get the opportunity to get involved with the local farming community, and Matthew says it has been found that Social Farming is proving to be a great way to integrate refugees into Irish society, many of whom may have suffered trauma in their own country.
The three most recent Social Farming participants on Matthew's farm came through came through Turas, a community addiction support service based in Dundalk.
Nicki Jordan, Turas Manager, reports: 'All three of them were glowing and beaming after their experience with Matthew. They thrived from their connection with the heritage and traditions on his farm and the beautiful natural surrounds. It was a fantastic opportunity for people living in an urban setting who normally wouldn't have the opportunity to work outdoors and be in nature.'