What is social farming?

Social farming is an emerging topic for different stakeholders across Europe: farmers, farmers’ organisations, service-users of social farms and their organisations, providers of social and health care services, other stakeholders in social and health care and local, regional and national authorities. Social farming includes:
  • agricultural enterprises and market gardens which integrate people with physical, mental or emotional disabilities;
  • farms which offer openings for the socially disadvantaged, for young offenders or those with learning difficulties, people with drug dependencies, the long-term unemployed and active senior citizens;
  • school and kindergarten farms and many more. Prevention of illness, inclusion and a better quality of life are features of social agriculture.
Social farming is both a new and a traditional concept. It originates from the traditional rural self-help networks that were wellestablished in rural areas before the modernisation of agriculture and the rise of the public welfare system. Nowadays the concept has been substantially reformed in an innovative and an evolving way. The special added value of social farming is the possibility for YOUNG disadvantaged people of being integrated in a living context, where their personal capabilities may be valued and enhanced. Social farming fits with the changing needs in society. It is interesting for the social and health care sectors, as it is linked to the strong demand for inclusive development coming from the fields of social and health care services (processes of socialisation). Nowadays inclusion of service-users into society, providing meaningful activities/work that leads to empowerment, greater independence and better social status and an approach that takes the potential of service-users as a starting point – rather than their limitations are all central elements in the desired renewal of the health and social care/rehabilitation sector


Good Practices

Social Farming in the Netherlands
April 26, 2015

As in all European countries, using agriculture as a beneficial activity for vulnerable people has a long albeit informal history. The combination of agricultural work and care is not new in the Netherlands. Since the end of the 1990s, there has been a resurgence of interest in the use of farms for the provision of […]

Social Farming in Italy
April 25, 2015

In Italy, as in the rest of Europe, farms have always developed practices promoting solidarity with disadvantaged people, even though only recently researchers and policy makers have defined these activities as Social Farming. In Italy, several interesting experiences have developed since the early 1970s, when Social Farming was mainly based on the ideas of ’68 […]

Social Farming in Ireland
April 25, 2015

The term ‘Social Farming’ is not one readily known or initially understood in Ireland. As elsewhere, the use of agriculture and horticulture as an activity within care settings such as within the old Psychiatric services and Intellectual Disability Services has a long history. It was used, perhaps as it was familiar to many people and […]