Care farming can become a key feature of the UK’s care provision and add millions to the rural economy, according to a new ‘State Of Play’ study unveiled by farming minister George Eustice on Wednesday, April 6.
During a visit to Boscawen care farm in Cornwall, the minister launched the study, which shows that care farming (defined as the therapeutic use of farming practices) is on the rise, with 240 UK farms already adding nearly £30m to the rural economy and providing 300,000 health and social care placements every year.
With support and recognition from policy makers, health commissioners and the farming sector, it is estimated that care farming could increase its value to nearly £90m and provide half a million sessions per year in health, social and educational care over the next five years.
According to national charity Care Farming UK, which published the study, care farms provide placements for a huge range of vulnerable groups including people with mental health problems, adults and children with learning disabilities, people with dementia, children with autism, those with a drug or alcohol addiction history, disaffected young people and military veterans with PTSD.
During his tour of Boscawen, a 45-acre care farm near Truro which supports adults with a learning disability to achieve skills for work-life or education, the Minister joined some of the service users, listened to their inspiring stories and spoke to local care farmers about the different types of services they are providing in Cornwall.
Care Farming UK’s Ian Egginton-Metters OBE, said the minister’s tour was an opportunity to gain more recognition of the scale that care farming can achieve: “By showing the great work being done at Boscawen farm today and giving experts in the field of Care Farming a chance to talk with the minister, our aim is to demonstrate that care farming is a growing, professional and an influential part of the farming sector.
“With supported expansion care farming can make a telling contribution to the rural economy and provide a genuinely cost-effective addition to current social and health care provision in the UK.
“Care Farming has already become part of mainstream in parts of Europe and we believe our study shows this is possible in the UK as well, but only with the right funding and support.”
At the launch, Farming Minister, George Eustice said: “This initiative offers valuable support to some of our most vulnerable people during their recovery. Care Farming demonstrates the important contribution that connecting people with farming and the natural environment has on improving wellbeing, and it’s great to see that this is on the rise.”
Care Farming in the UK State Of Play Study: Key Findings
- There are an estimated 240 care farms in the UK and 138 care farms provided data for this State of Play by updating their details on the Care Farming UK website or responding to the short online survey
- Of the 240 known care farms in the UK, 8 are in Wales, 12 are in Scotland, 15 in Northern Ireland and 205 in England. There are also currently estimated to be 20 additional care farms in the Republic of Ireland, in various stages of development.
- Most UK care farms provide services for a range of client groups, including people with learning difficulties (95% of care farms), autism spectrum disorders (85%), people with mental illness (71%) and excluded young people (63%)
- Funding is the most significant challenge to care farming services, in addition to securing contracts and recognition of the value of care farms and care farming services.
The full study is available to download at: www.carefarminguk.org/resources/research-publications