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Rena hosts a great day out as social farming series visits Ballybunion

Rena Blake hosts the latest farm open day in bright new series


Even a cursory glance onto Rena Blake's farm in Ballybunion on Friday would have convinced anyone of the brilliance of the Social Farming project.

There, scores of adults and children with disabilities took part in the nourishing business of animal husbandry and horticulture in an activity boosting mental, physical and emotional health across the board.

From gathering eggs from the hen house to harvesting tomatoes and lettuce in the polytunnel, host Rena Blake delivered just about the perfect farming out on her holding in Barna, Ballybunion.

Also present were numerous host farmers from across the county, as well as officials of the Department of Rural and Community Development upon whom the value of the project was impressed repeatedly over the course of the day.

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Kerry Social Farming is steered by a committee comprised of representatives from participants, host farmers, St John of Gods Kerry, Kerry Parents and Friends Association, Enable Ireland, Down Syndrome Ireland (Kerry), Cunamh Iveragh, Kerry County Council, HSE, Kerry Local Link, North East West Kerry Development Partnership, South Kerry Development Partnership.

They have overseen steady growth in recent years with 19 host farmers now operating in Kerry.

"Social farming is a wonderful, rewarding and fulfilling initiative for all concerned," Kerry Social Farming Chairman George Kelly said, adding: "Host farmers and their families are the key to its success in Kerry. They have really bought into the whole concept of social farming and are enthusiastic in promoting it among the farming community." The success of the project has now led to calls for Social Farming to be put on a more permanent funding.

"It's too important to be continually worrying about securing funding in order to survive," George added.