On 17-18 September 2019, the conference "Social agriculture and care farm: job opportunities, social partnership and inclusion" was held to disseminate the results of the CARE-T-FARMS project. The event was organised by the Agricultural Advisory Centre in Brwinów Branch in Kraków (CDR O/Kraków) in cooperation with project partners from Belgium, Spain, Poland, Turkey and Italy. The event was preceded by a meeting of representatives of partner institutions, which took place on 16 September, 2019 at the headquarters of CDR O/Kraków (more details about the project can be found here: http://www.care-t-farms.eu).
The conference was addressed to a wide range of people interested in the topic of social farming and care farms. The event was attended by agricultural advisors, farmers, students, academics, rural residents, representatives of local associations and organisations, as well as guests from abroad, representatives of the partner institutions of the project.
During the first day of the event, Mr. Massimo Canalicchio (Umbria Servizi all'Impresa srl, Italy) presented the goals and results of the project. Following this, Józefina Król and Karolina Boba (CDR O/Kraków) demonstrated the CARE-T-FARMS training platform. Participants also had the opportunity to do the piloting test. In the second part of the day there was a study visit at the "Farma Życia” (Farm of Life) in Więckowice.
Farm of Life is a centre for permanent residence, work, therapy, rehabilitation and professional activation for adults with the spectrum of autistic disorders. The infrastructure of the centre includes two multifunctional buildings where residential areas are separated and are part of the "Na Farmie Życie" Małopolski Welfare House in Więckowice. Therapeutic laboratories (e.g. handicrafts/utility arts, household, educational, computer, tailor and art, rehabilitation, mobility, gardening, carpentry), in addition to an office and economic facilities, are part of a separate structure, the Daily Activity Centre. The area of the centre is 7 ha and includes an organic agri-fruit farm with a vegetable garden, orchard, blueberry field and recreational and green areas. This ecological farm is of key importance to "green therapy", during which adults with autism learn basic professional activities, cooperation, and perform social roles (more about the farm on the website can be found here: http://www.farma.org.pl/dzialalnosc-2/farma-zycia.html).
The second day of the event was devoted to the concept of social farming as an innovative approach enabling combined agricultural activity with social, health, caring or educational activities. The first concept was presented by Ms. Elżbieta Dziasek (CDR O/Kraków) on the development of the CARE-T-FARMS training course, which consists of three modules: a supervisor, a manager and a specialist in a social farm. The ideas that arise in the course were explained, its structure was discussed in addition to the context of broader activities implemented at the Kraków branch of the CDR for the development of green care in Poland. Ms. Aleksandra Bielińska (KPODR in Minikowo) then presented the importance of social farming in relation to social exclusion, also highlighting selected experiences of care farms in the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship. Mr. Edward Bolak (Farm of Life) emphasised how the functioning of a farm should be adapted to the special needs and capabilities of people with disabilities, referring to the example of the Farm of Life. Patrycja Żurek (Farm of Life), as a gardening instructor, who works directly with the participants of the Farm of Life spoke about the effects of farm therapy for people with intellectual disabilities, as well as those with autism spectrum disorders.
The meeting ended with a discussion panel incorporating the participation of all speakers and conference participants. During this meeting, attention was drawn to several issues that are important from the point of view of further work on the subject of social agriculture in Poland. In particular, the need to educate the staff of a social farm. The materials and training platform developed during the CARE-T-FARMS project will be helpful in this regard.