The winner of the 2022 RDS Rural Social Impact Award is Slí Eile Farm, Mallow, Co. Cork.
Slí Eile was founded in 2006 to support people suffering from mental health issues.
A turning point for Slí Eile came in 2013 when the organisation moved to Burton Park, a 17th Century manor house and 50-acre organic farm. Burton Park became the primary centre for Slí Eile and its tenants with the farm developing into a thriving social enterprise.
The general business model at Slí Eile is to provide a social enterprise for the tenants participating in its programme. The farm and facilities allow people to gain new skills in organic vegetable growing and baking, with goods sold at local shops and supermarkets. This provides a structure to the tenants day and allows them to grow in confidence and gain practical skills.
Slí Eile also run a very successful Saturday market for local traders and their own vegetable and bakery products. This market provides a social meeting place for the local community and an opportunity to interact with the tenants through the café and different stalls that they run. This has helped educate the local community about mental health issues.
The RDS Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development Awards celebrate the work of individuals, farm families and organisations who are enhancing the economic, environmental and social development of Irish agriculture and rural communities.