A new organisation to support and promote land-based community development, green care and social care in the UK, has been officially launched by Lord Donald of Kirkharle today (April 24) at the opening of the Growing Better Lives conference in Manchester. Called Social Farms & Gardens, the new organisation is a result of a merger between the Federation of City Farms & Community Gardens and Care Farming UK.
Lord Curry, who will become the new President of the organisation, told delegates at the University of Salford that Social Farms & Gardens will continue to build on the work over the last 38 years, representing and supporting the delivery of care services and community development through farming and gardening activities.
Much recent research has shown how city farms, community gardens and other community managed green spaces have an vital impact on health, wellbeing, education and sustainable development of community facilities, often in deprived areas. And care farming in the UK has grown in prominence in the last decade as an effective form of health and social care - so much so that the expansion of care farming in the UK was mentioned in DEFRA’s 25 year environmental plan.
It is hoped Social Farms & Gardens will be in the best position to take advantage of the current levels of interest and support for this work, increasing the number of projects capable of delivering services and helping them become more sustainable.It will also provide support and inspiration to the whole nature, health and wellbeing sector. The joint organisation will also use its influence to encourage more investment and funding opportunities and concentrate on persuading Government, health services and business to do more to support this work.
Co-chair of the new organisation David Drury said: “We are delighted to be able to confirm the name of our new organisation. We believe this move will help us deliver better services and more benefits to our members, and enhance our power to influence Government and funders, as well as increasing our public profile.”
Rev. Andrew Harter, also co-chair of Social Farms & Gardens commented: “We are extremely pleased to be able to officially unveil this new, forward-looking organisation, which will enhance the support and opportunities being offered to care farmers in the UK into the future.”
Practicalities of the merger, including a merged website and membership structure, are ongoing. In the the meantime, both organisations will continue as normal with all current projects and work delivery and with the same websites.
The Growing Better Lives 2018 takes place over two days and is aimed at community gardening and farming practitioners and care farmers, pus academics and representatives from other organisations in the sector and government officers.
The conference aims to ncrease awareness and understanding of how the work carried out by care farms and community farms and gardens can significantly improve people’s lives. There are a host of speakers, workshops, site tours, a community garden party and an awards ceremony. There will be opportunities to meet and network with other community farming and gardening practitioners.