Our free online care farm training system will be available soon. Here is a video on the final efforts of our project!
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.
The Conference “Social Agriculture and Care Farm: Work Opportunity, Social Partnership and Opportunity” was hosted by the European Landowners’ Organization in Brussels, on Tuesday 25th June, 2019. The conference was opened by Lindsey CHUBB of the European Landowners’ Organization, who introduced the project and the purposes of the day’s events. Dr. Massimo CANALICCHIO from CIA Umbria Servizi all’Impresa srl., project partner of CARE-T-FARMS provided an overview of the project including the content, goals and expected results. This was followed by a brief summary from project coordinator, Józefina KRÓL of CDR, Agricultural Advisory Centre, and Karolina BOBA who provided a demonstration of the online training system.
Guest speaker Dr. Gabriele ROCCA of World Association for Psychosocial Rehabilitation (WAPR) explained the aims of WAPR, rehabilitation in mental health and the history of work and treatment for persons with mental disorders and handicaps. He emphasised the transition from total control by the staff in traditional environments such as psychiatric hospitals to a more flexible approach, allowing the patient to have more autonomy in their daily activities and work. Mieke BROEDERS, Treasurer of the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT) highlighted care farming and opportunities for accessible tourism. She explained that accessible tourism is about making environments, venues and services suitable for the widest range of customers, not only the disabled but also seniors, families with small children, people with long-term health conditions and many more. BROEDERS highlighted a surprising statistic that only 9% of European Tourism Suppliers have “accessible” offers (ENAT Study of Tourism Supply for the EU Commission (2015)) and this lack of accessible tourism is costing the economy billions. She also addressed a very common misconception that accessible tourism is too expensive as it is usually the decision to adapt and change infrastructure after construction which is more expensive. When accessibility is considered in the initial planning, it is much less costly. Dr. ir. Jan HASSINK, Researcher at Wageningen University & Research and Founder and Coordinator of the care farm Hoeve Klein Mariendaal discussed social farming in the Netherlands and how it has changed since the late 1990s. In 1998, there were approximately 75 care farms in the Netherlands, while today there are 1.100 care farms and more than 20.000 clients that visit these farms. What began as an initiative for people with learning disabilities is now open to people with alcohol or drug addiction, psychiatric problems, elderly with dementia and children with behavioural problems. At present, people are not only interested in working on farms for a pleasant daily activity, but also join for labour reintegration or vocational training. Care farms now provide multifunctional activities for work, recreation and business.
Later, in the panel discussion, the focus was on several aspects of the project including ways we can make a substantial difference in accessibility for everyone, not only the disabled, and some practical advice for people interested in starting their own care farms. An additional point was the consideration of social agriculture in policy initiatives. Support from politicians for accessibility for the disabled and the use of social agriculture for therapy appears much less in European agricultural debates among politicians, however, it should be a topical point of discussion.
This event is only the first of a series of multiplier events that will be held in each partner’s country. The training system will be fully complete in October 2019 in English, French, Italian, Polish, Spanish and Turkish, but incorporates case studies from other European countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium and Czech Republic.