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Social aspects

Social farming

Social Farming has come to the attention of an increasing range of rural stakeholders in recent years and numerous examples of social farming activities can be found around the EU-27 Member States. This interest is the result of a growing understanding of the potential role of agricultural and rural resources for enhancing the social, physical and mental well-being of people.

At the same time, social farming also represents a new opportunity for farmers to deliver alternative services to broaden and diversify the scope of their activities and multi-functional role in society. This integration between agricultural and social activities can also provide farmers with new sources of income and enhance the image of agriculture in the ‘public eye’.

Joint Thematic Initiative

The NRN Joint Thematic Initiative for Social Farming was launched in December 2009 in response to a proposal from the Italian Rural Network for a group of NRNs to work together to identify and analyse the opportunities and obstacles presented by national/regional RDPs 2007-2013 for the implementation of Social Farming/green care activities in the EU-27.

The specific aim of the Social Farming Thematic Initiative was “ improve the implementation of RDPs in support of Social Farming and to provide inputs to the development of the future programming period at national and European level”.

A total of seven NRNs participated in the Initiative - namely Austria, Belgium–Flanders, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Sweden and the United Kingdom – and began to collect information on the state-of-play of Social Farming activities in their countries.

The results from this first co-operation were presented [PDF ] in March 2010 at the 8th NRN meeting in Rome (25-26 March 2010). The participating NRNs also agreed upon a work programme leading to the preparation of an Overview Paper (supported with a set of relevant case studies) by the end of 2010.

Results from the Overview Paper and the Case Studies were presented at two important Social Farming conferences during 2010:

  • 5th European COST Conference on “Green Care in Agriculture” held on 24-26 August 2010 in Witzenhausen, Germany;
  • Linking Rural Development and Social Farming” organised by the Flemish Rural Network on 30 September and 1 October 2010 in Mechelen, Belgium.

The final version of the Overview Paper can be downloaded here [PDF ] and a total of 17 case studies collected from 6 Member States from here [PDF ].

In addition, the following video shows some specific examples of social farming activities from the UK.

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