Suffolk ‘could host 60 care farms over next decade’ says care farmer Doeke Dobma
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Suffolk could become home to 60 care farms over the next decade, a care farming conference will hear next month.
Care Farming in Norfolk and Suffolk takes place at the Corn Hall in Diss on Friday, May 23.
The event is geared towards aspiring care farmers and smallholders, policymakers and commissioners, health professionals, educationalists supporting vulnerable groups and local people and groups who could benefit from care farming.
Speakers include Care Minister Norman Lamb, Suffolk County Council Leader Mark Bee, Easton and Otley College principal David Lawrence and the event is chaired by National Farmers’ Union regional director Pamela Forbes.
Organiser Doeke Dobma, of Clinks Care Farm, near Beccles, said it was a challenging time for care farmers.
“Since our last Care Farming Conference, Growing Together, in Debenham in November 2011, we as a group of 10 dedicated care farmers experienced many challenges in Suffolk as a result of financial changes in health and social care budgets,” he said. “Today, it seems to us that the uncertain clouds have cleared up and we felt that having another care farming conference, celebrating achievements and exploring opportunities, would bring the topic of care farming back into public and professional domain. In the Netherlands there are 1,100 care farms supporting smaller farms to diverse their operations into health and social care. Breaking this figure down and apply them to Suffolk, we could see up to 60 care farms in the next 10 years supporting over 2,500 vulnerable children, young people, adults and elderly people.
“With the conference, and with the quality of speakers, we hope to get on with our job to create a better, healthier and more inclusive Suffolk. It is now down to the local politicians, commissioners and health and care practitioners to achieve these goals we feel are realistic.”
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“Care Farming in Suffolk remains a relative new topic but is slowly recognised by politicians, commissioners and practitioners in the public health, education and social care sector in Suffolk. It is a health and social model based on the farm, at the heart of our rural communities which offers the most vulnerable and marginalised groups and individuals a glims of hope and new goals to improve their physical health and mental health wellbeing.
“The economic recession and its consequences has blinded us from searching for simple and cost effective solutions to the health and social needs of people in our communities”
“With the Leader of Suffolk County Council, Cllr Mark Bee and his colleagues within various Suffolk County Council departments and in particular Adult Community Services, Care Farmers in Suffolk have found new allies who are willing to listen to the health benefits and the cost effectiveness of a care farm. Care Farms are very social inclusive by its nature and combines the care of the land with the care of people. Where Care Farming is accepted in other European Countries such as the Netherlands, Norway, we still have to go a long way in the UK. I am glad to say that minds and actions are opening up in Suffolk.
“Care Farming potentially assist with re-generating and re-vitalising the rural economy as it creates additional jobs, investment to make farms and buildings more accessible incl. refurbishment of old buildings and additional facilities and also creates a community cohesion aspect as people use the farm to purchase vegetables, flowers, meat, eggs and come over for a chat & coffee or tea. Clinks Care Farm provides free conservation services to local parish councils who are struggling keeping sites accessible for the public but with no or limited financial resources.”