£100k social farming grant scheme open for applications

MLAs Maurice Bradley and Adrian McQuillan at the Rural Support roadshow.
MLAs Maurice Bradley and Adrian McQuillan at the Rural Support roadshow.

Farmers in the Causeway Coast and Glens area are urged to avail of a £100,000 social farming grants initiative that opened for application this week.

The appeal came from DUP MLA Maurice Bradley as he welcomed the announcement of the scheme by Agriculture Minister Michelle McIlveen,

The East Londonderry representative, a member of the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs committee, said: “Social farming allows farmers to open up their farms to the community in innovative ways. The farm, at the same time, remains a working farm.

“We have seen many success stories locally on how farmers and communities can benefit from innovative schemes, and I would urge farmers who want to find out more to contact my office or visit the DAERA website.

“Social farming can ease the financial burdens many farmers face, but it also has educational and health benefits for those that take part. “

Under the scheme which is open for applications until Monday, October 31, capital grants of between £500 and £4,999 are available to ‘Active Farmers’ already involved in the provision of social farming.

The minister said: “Social farming and the involvement in day-to-day agricultural activities is well known for improving the wellbeing of those living with learning disabilities and mental health challenges. It has also been shown to benefit the farmers and farm families hosting the participants.”

Detailed information on the Scheme including the application form and Scheme guidance notes is available from the DAERA website.

Meanwhile, Mr Bradley and his East Londonderry colleague Adrian McQuillan MLA attended a roadshow in Coleraine Town Hall, hosted by Rural Support.

Mr Bradley said: “This charity provides advice to local farmers on a variety of issues, including rural stress and promoting positive mental health in rural areas. The Rural Support charity can also provide advice on social farming. And, at the roadshow last week, we heard of the many benefits of such schemes.”

Also present at the event was UUP Councillor Darryl Wilson, who praised the work of Rural Support.

He said: “The Roadshow and signposting initiative has enabled the Rural Support charity to meet with local stakeholders to demonstrate the useful support services which are on offer in each specific area through the charity’s dedicated helpline and mentoring programmes.”

The ‘Rural Support’ helpline number is 0845 6067 607.