The Kerry Social Farming initiative was established in 2013. It is a “voluntary, locally led, community-based initiative”.
Primarily supported by the Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine (DAFM) through its Commission for Economic Development of Rural Areas (CEDRA) Rural Innovation and Development Fund, it is a shared service that provides farming and social inclusion opportunities to people with intellectual disabilities and acquired brain injuries.
At Mary Walsh’s farm in Co. Kerry, Little Black Hill Farm, Pat has been working there for nearly four years while John-Francis joined her to work in the past year.
Together, they help grow, care for and pack vegetables for delivery to restaurants and hotels. Little Black Hill Farm also does a ‘box-scheme’ for twenty people every Wednesday.
Later, the pigs are fed, and the men travel into town with Mary. The social farming scheme offers support to local communities and is beneficial to the community both economically and socially.
"Farming is about diversity; for everybody to be included, so why shouldn’t we be like that in a wider community?” said Mary.