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Free Content The well-being benefits of sensory-rich farm visits

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There is increasing evidence to show that exposure to nature positively affects health and well-being of individuals in society. This paper is based on the evaluation of Let Nature Feed Your Senses (LNFYS), an English project to encourage people with disabilities, from areas of high social deprivation, and older people to access and enjoy the natural environment through sensory-rich farm visits. The evidence of positive health and well-being impacts from the project is assessed, and the wider implications for policy and practice are discussed. Qualitative data from 38 follow-up interviews conducted with group leaders one to six months after a visit; testimonies and quotes from visit evaluation forms and letters and comments received by host farmers; and a focus group with 10 group leaders were analysed. The results revealed that enhanced mental well-being and social inclusion were consistently reported as a benefit of the farm visit. Participants particularly referred to the calming impact of the farm environment; an increase in self-esteem and independence; improvements in memory function and reminiscence ability; and increased communication. The paper concludes that whilst there is a clear benefit and demand for such on-farm experiences, in order to secure future funding evidence of their economic impacts and longitudinal follow-up studies of benefits are required.

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Keywords: farm visits; health benefits; sensory engagement; social inclusion; well-being

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2014-10-01

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