The traditional model of care farming uses the whole or part of a farm to provide health, social or educational care services for one or a range of vulnerable groups of people and provide a supervised, structured programme of farming-related activities, including the provision of social prescription. Increasingly, care farms are being referred to as social farms, to move away from the perceived clinical definition of the former. Currently, social farms are mainly situated within rural contexts and are somewhat small-scale in nature, often distanced from the communities who could benefit from them most.
The key focus of UrbSFarm will be the potential for care farms in an urban setting, specifically utilising publicly owned green assets (including existing parks as well as unused green spaces), to impact on mental health in the priority target urban communities; consequently reducing pressures on conventional medical and social public sector services – thus creating a ‘virtuous spiral’ of beneficial outcomes and reduced costs for the public sector in return for an innovative use of assets.
The over-arching aim of this project is enable urban social farming in NWE partner countries and to critically explore its potential as a tool to tackle mental health issues through a social prescribing approach. This aim will be achieved with the following objectives:
- Engage with local stakeholders to identify sites for urban social farms on public assets in each region
- Conduct a review of social farming practice and novel mental health interventions already existing within NWE countries through primary and secondary data collection
- Evaluate different models of social farming and identify the best model to be employed at the sites selected
- Create a robust business case, using the data from objectives ii & iii to design a social farm for each NWE partner space together with its associated entrepreneurial opportunities
- Implement the urban social farms in each region
- Undertake an analysis of the interventions using ‘INSERT TOOL’ to determine the impact on mental health in the areas selected
- Provide recommendations and a framework for replicating the approach across NWE countries and the wider EU region