For me, Twitter is a great resource for changing public opinion and highlighting key areas of working. I was thrilled be be approached by Simon and be asked to host the Farmers Of The UK account for a week. As a Care Farm Manager, one of my biggest challenges is making people aware of what it is we do. So to host the account for the week gave me a fantastic opportunity to raise the profile of Care Farming and Mental health care.
Care Farming is the use of agriculture and horticulture work tasks to build a person’s skills, confidence and self esteem, as well as boosting mental and physical health for people with specific needs. We run a commercial hill farm; having people on the farm with disabilities adds life to the place. In days gone by, the farm was always the social hub of the community; with mechanisation this has reduced to the wider community not knowing where or how their food is produced.
Hosting the account gave me the opportunity to show what we do on a Care Farm, from moving the sheep, mucking out pigs, lambing and growing vegetables. It brings the farm to life, and the sense of satisfaction and pride of seeing people develop as individuals is immense.
I was nervous prior to hosting FOTUK because a lot of farmers perceive what we do as a bit weird, and the attitude of ‘that won't work on my farm’ is a comment I hear all too often. A fellow farmer and Twitter user once told me that I should take every opportunity that comes my way, so hosting FOTUK for a week was a no brainier for me.
I was thrilled with the response to my tweets. A lot of positive comments, and in some cases, amazement at what we are doing! Interest in how to setup a Care Farm and how to work with some of the people we do in a farm environment was fantastic. This is great and can only go towards my goal of seeing more Care Farms in the UK. Compared to Norway and the Netherlands the UK sits a long way behind in its use of the outdoors as a treatment to a host of illnesses.
To anyone thinking of hosting the account I have no doubt that you will not regret the experience. Embrace the opportunity, and let the rest of the Twitter world know what a fantastic industry we work in, with a wide range of experiences and opportunities we can share.