One of the original Pilot Social Farmers as part of our Social Farming Across Borders (SoFAB) project was one of the entrants in Bloom this year. Barry Kavanagh designed a large garden entitled "Across Boundaries" for Bloom 2016 with the help of many of the other pilot farmers and participants. The garden won a Gold Medal in the Large Garden category, and also won the Peoples Choice Award (by popular vote) and the Designers Award.
The garden was a representation of how the concept of Social Farming can play a vital role in the health & well being of participants. The garden was broken up into different areas of representation. The square room represented conventional therapy. Within the room was a figure facing an open barrier. Crossing this barrier, represents the participant takes their transitionary step from conventional care into a natural farm-based setting. The garden was further broken up into primary farm environments, held together by a natural stone wall. Gwen Wilkinson’s sculptures represented farm animals using chicken wire as material, while traditional stiles recalled the built heritage of Ireland. After being displayed at Bloom, the garden will be integrated into an existing social farm. The meadow and some of the planting were sourced from the farm and will be returned post-show.The garden was visited by thousands including the President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina and the Taoiseach Enda Kenny. A number of the social farming pilot farmers and the participants were on hand each day to interpret the garden and tell the real story behind it.
Well done to all involved, and the great message from Social Farming was told to many more!