Farming and Fostering – Fostering and Farming

Maria and Pat’s Story.

Farming and Fostering – Fostering and Farming

Maria and Pat are a dry stock/poultry farming family in the West. They are in their fifties and have adult children and currently foster one child. Since they began fostering for FFI nearly 10 years ago the couple have fostered over 13 children.

Life on a farm provides an excellent location for children to grow up in. Being close to nature teaches and encourages children to grow and develop into caring and responsible adults. It grounds them on a solid footing and naturally helps the child to learn by observation, the seasonal and life cycle movements about them. They learn where their food comes from and have a greater understanding of animals and plant life. For example they see for themselves that potatoes have to be sown in spring, develop in the ground, dug up, stored, washed and prepared for cooking and peeled before eating. In the city some children can think that potato chips come from the chip shop across the road without any real connection to the source of origin of the main ingredient.

The slow pace of life in the country also encourages plenty of time for thought and questioning. The birds’ nests for example show a child the life cycle of birds and the nurture and care needed to sustain a small bird from egg into a flying independent self-sufficient creature.

As farmers are their own bosses they have more flexibility with the use and planning of their time than most other professionals and this lends itself very well to fostering. Our flexibility works well with caring for children, they can make mistakes and learn from them and everyone can move on from it.

We have been fostering for almost ten years now and our first foster child is still with us. He came from Dublin city and we brought him to The Ploughing Championship shortly after his arrival to us, as this outing is part of our annual family event. He was amazed with the machinery on display. After the competition, he drew a picture of a large digger  and won first place in an art competition with his entry.

His love of machinery has continued to grow and today he is a very good mechanic. He may not have had this opportunity should he not have come into care and be placed on a farm.

The closeness to animals and providing care for them teaches children to be kind and caring and this gift spreads out to encourage kindness to all living creatures including human beings.

Work on a farm requires team work among family members and it is in such situations that children learn the value and importance of their own input. This is very valuable training – in fact life on a farm is training for life in the larger world of work, communication, nurture and survival in general.

We feel that the therapeutic nature of being close to the soil and nature has greatly helped the children that we have fostered.

Fostering has blended very well and greatly enhanced our family and our farming life in many ways and we have seen at first hand the enormous calming effect the farm has had on our foster children. Children who may have been considered difficult, agitated and giddy have settled, developed, and grown both physically and emotionally on our farm.

We are so delighted that we are foster parents and feel that it is the one of the best things we have ever done, despite the hard work and commitment required.  Could you do the same on your farm?

If you are interested in fostering or would just like some further information, call us 01-4171944.

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