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.