SoEngage: Definition of Social Farming

Social Farming is a planned outcome focused, support placement for people on a farm using the natural assets of the people (the farmer or grower and his or her family), the place, the many activities (which are carried out on that farm) and the community around the farm to support a person to achieve some of their own chosen goals.

It is fundamentally based on spending time with farmers / growers and their families in the natural environment of the farm, and encompasses the key elements; which are valuable, meaningful activities and the social and community connections which the ordinary farm can provide. These elements combine to deepen its impact further and to support people who are vulnerable or need assistance as Figure 1 below demonstrates.

The key features of Social Farming

1. The farm must be a regular, ordinary productive / commercial farm and it can be large farms, medium size farms or small farms.

2. The farm enterprises can be many and varied and can include horticultural production, forest areas, livestock production, equestrian, food production, machine, wood, farm workshop etc. etc.

3. The participants come to the farm for support and are not employees.

4. The farmer may be paid or receive benefit in kind grants etc. fior providing the support to the participant(s) or may not be paid for the support which they provide.

5. The participants engage in the farm, environmental, workshop, household activities while on the farm.

6. The participants spend time with the farmer and or his her family while there on the farm.

7. The participants generally smaller groups up to five people come to the farm on an ongoing basis or for shorter specified periods of time.

8. The participants choose to be at the farm and involved in the activities.

Key Characteristics which many social farmers display
• Provide dignity and respect to all participants
• They are empathetic and have time, patience to give participants
• Good communicator able to give clear instructions
• They are focused on other people and respond to individual needs
• They are hospitable, opening to sharing, and welcoming on their farm
• They may be involved in Community inclusion, openness
• They are generally flexible and responsive to change
• They have skills to share
• They have an interest or already been involved in farm diversification
• A belief that farms and farm families are uniquely placed as natural community connectors
• A significant emphasis on relationships between people
•Understands that the activity needs to be supported through a sound framework
• They have an ambition of playing a social role in their community
• Belief in inclusion, choice and empowerment; and want to help others
to live ‘An ordinary life’.