Posted 7 January 2008
An event to introduce the concept and practice of care farming is to be staged at Bishop Burton College on Wednesday 16th January 2008. Care farming, which could contribute a staggering £10.2m to the Yorkshire economy, is a relatively new concept to the UK and is a significant diversification opportunity to farmers and landowners.
The event will give farmers the opportunity to explore the economic benefits of such an enterprise as well as understanding the wider social advantages that result from offering care services on farms.
The potential development of care farming in the UK is huge. Dutch research in November 2007 has shown that care farming is by far the fastest growing farm diversification in the Netherlands. In just under ten years the number of farms becoming involved has increased from 75 to over 800. Projections have shown that, if developments in the UK follow a similar model to that in the Netherlands over the next ten years, an average care farm business would generate a revenue of £52,517 per annum from delivering care alone.
Essentially care farming projects are where commercial farms, woodlands and market gardens work with health and social care agencies to provide normal farming activities to improve participant’s physical and mental health and well-being. The farming activities connection with nature in the rural environment are proven to improve the quality of life for suffers of mental heath issues and depression, work-related stress, learning difficulties or those with a drug or alcohol history. Becoming involved with activities on a working farm can also be very beneficial for rehabilitation and re-education for disaffected youths.
The National Care Farming Initiative UK (NCFI), which is based at Harper Adams University College, Shropshire, was established to raise awareness of the benefits of care farming and to provide practical support and advice to farmers and agencies that wish to become involved. More recently a ‘Care Farmer Practitioner Steering Group’ was formed at a meeting at the Farmers Club in London on 4th December.
Jon Dover of NCFI said “This pioneering regional conference has been specifically designed to inform those involved with land-based activities and health and social care providers of the benefits of care farming. Care Farming is currently helping thousands of people with very varied health issues from special needs and mental health recovery through to excluded youth and drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Meaningful work combined with connection to other people and nature is a winning and cost-effective combination. The UK is currently far behind neighbouring EU countries where care farms are used by mainstream health and welfare services on a daily basis. The NCFI and the newly formed Care Farmers Practitioner Steering Group are extremely encouraged by the proven public benefit and the subsequent new business opportunities that lie ahead.”
Tony Cooke, Chair of the Framework for Change, the umbrella organisation overseeing the Government Sustainable Farming and Food Strategy in the Yorkshire region said “Care Farming is a genuine opportunity for many farmers in the Yorkshire and Humber region. As we move into a new era of being market-focussed as a farming industry, care farming is an imaginative way of harnessing all of the farm’s resources whilst delivering real benefits to the local community too.”
Keynote speakers at the conference include the two Chairs of the newly formed Care Farmer Practitioner Steering Group. Both Gareth Gaunt of Carlshead Farm Wetherby and Beren Aldridge of Growing Well, Low Sizergh, Cumbria are both involved with managing some of the leading care farms in the UK. They will be giving practical advice on how to develop a care farm and will talk of both the financial and social benefits and considerations. They will be joined by one of the first care farming social enterprise consultants in the UK, Nigel Lowthrop of the hugely successful Hill Holt Wood in Lincolnshire, Brian Firth, Managing Director of Education Other Than at School from Leeds will offer a commissioning perspective and Jon Dover, Policy Advisor of the National Care Farming Initiative will provide context from the Dutch experience.
THE EVENT IS FREE TO ALL DELEGATES
Date: Wednesday 16th January 2008
Registration and Coffee: 9am for 9-30am start
Location: Conference Hall, Bishop Burton College
Booking: To book a place at the event or to receive a registration form please telephone Peter Reed on 01482 887670 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
· The event has been arranged by East Riding of Yorkshire Council and the NCFI (UK).
· The event is sponsored by ‘Growing Social Enterprise in the Humber’ and COMBINE.
· The National Care Farming Initiative (NCFI(UK)) was formed in response to feedback following a national conference which took place at Harper Adams University College in November 2005. It aims to highlight the work taking place on farms offering health, education and welfare services for people with a range of specialist or particular needs. This type of service offered on farms is known as "care-farming". The NCFI(UK) provides networking, research, mutual support and events for its members.
· NCFI partners: Harper Adams University College, Arthur Rank Centre, University of Essex, Functional Shift Consulting Ltd and Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens.
· Harper Adams University College is the UK’s largest university institution serving the rural and land-based industries.
· In the Sunday Times University Guide 2007 Harper Adams University College was named Best University College in the UK and was also short-listed for the prestigious Sunday Times University of the Year Award.