Doon Social Farm is part of Ballyhoura Rural Services, based in Doon in Co Limerick. This group was set up in 2010 to provide social contact to those who needed it in the local area, though a service called Befriending and Phone link. These services are for those who are possibly living alone and experiencing loneliness, to have regular contact and support either through visiting or by phone. Ballyhoura Rural Services joined with others to form a board who researched the possibility of setting up a Social Farm. In 2018 after lots of hard work, planning and fund raising the group started developing some of the buildings to create the Social Farm. Today the Social Farm operates as a working farm providing opportunities for individuals and groups to experience work in nature through growing on the farm and looking after animals.
This farm environment offers a very diverse range of activities and opportunities that provides structure to develop innovative activity-based programs for participants. Social Farm Participants Include, early school leavers, people who are not employed or in education, people recovering from drug and alcohol misuse, young offenders, people with various disabilities, people with mental health issues, marginalised youths and young people who may have an interest in gaining knowledge about farming.
This emerging form of education and care is being used to successfully integrate disadvantaged people. It allows for the building of relationships and trust between professionals, educators, and the target group. It offers participants a set of daily tasks which provide opportunities for teamwork, growth and the development of a sense of shared responsibility. The care of animals, the raising of crops, and the potential for maintenance projects are just some of the rich opportunities provided by this Social Farming model