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Social Farming

At Pontio, in North Wales, a new Masters by Research in Relational Design (#api_MRRD) helps you make a positive step-change in a live wellness project for a region. Here is one project scenario: develop a service, or platform, to meet the growing need for social farming. Scroll down for other project ideas.
(Shown above: a formerly abandoned city farm in Milan has been given new life as a multi–functional centre).

We all have to eat, and the health of the soils, watersheds and biodiversity is in all our interests – so why should farmers do it all on their own? Interest is growing in ways by which citizens can play a practical role. The social, educational and health benefits of social farming can be huge – but they need to be organised.

Care farms can create social value as convivial locations for young or elderly people in need. In Ireland, dozens of farms enable city people to participate in  farm activities in a non-clinical environment. The practice reconnects farmers with their local community as part of the social support system. And in Scotland, Whitmuir Learning Farm is a thriving hub hub for myriad activities: cooking, composting, seed swaps, bird, soil and wildlife courses.

Growing, harvesting and processing food can be a shared activity, too. In a project called #OurField in England, 40 citizens co-invest in a farmer’s field for a year; together with the farmer they decide what to grow, how to grow it and what happens with the crop.

Many citizens already participate in the regeneration of forests, meadows, and rivers. Government funding for High Nature Value Farming schemes expand the range of possibilities; farmers are rewarded for biodiversity improvement, and value-creating work is needed to look after pastures, meadows and orchards, as well as large hedges and copses. High Nature Value farming can also be a source of new produce – from herbs used in biorefining, to artisan cheeses. 

Marginal and neglected woodlands can also be the basis of new social enterprise. A pilot programme in the UK, which involves 50 woodland social enterprises, is exploring new  ideas that that span woodfuel and timber, to woodlands being used in an educational or health and well-being setting.

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One Comment

  1. Tom DeLuca
    Posted January 25, 2019 at 20:57 | Permalink

    Hi John! Happy to see you are doing some work in North Wales, such a cool place with tons of potential. Nice also to see soils woven throughout your works!! I hope all is well for you. In case you don’t remember me, I had been in Bangor (the soil guy refurbing the rhizontron at Treborth) and then UW Seattle, now back in Montana. Lots of cool stuff going on. Denise and I would like to connect with you at some point. Could you send me an email at one of the addresses above and we can start a dialogue.

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