Documents: Special Interest: Horticultural Therapy:

Need Assistance Locating 'Care Farms'

...from Dutch Support Centre Care for Farms
by Anita Jansen
November 24, 2002

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am a student from the HAS (agricultural school) in Dronten The Netherlands.

At the moment I work as a trainee at the Dutch Support Centre for Care farms (Landelijk Steunpunt voor landbouw & Zorg). This Support Centre aims to encourage the concepts of care farms in The Netherlands and is financed by the Dutch government.

As you may know, care farms combine agricultural production and care. In most cases everything starts from an already existing farm. This will remain a farm, only now with a side branch of care. In the attachment by this e-mail, you find more information about carefarms in The Netherlands.

I know the concept of care farms is also known in other (European) countries, but there is no inventory and there is no exchange between countries. On behalf of the Support Centre, I try to make an inventory of existing care farms in Europe. We think it can be useful to exchange and transfer knowledge and experiences.

My question to you is:

  1. Do you have an inventory of carefarms in your country? If you do, would you be so kind to give me some information about it and if you don't, can you give me advice which people or organisation might have this information?

  2. Do you know examples of carefarms in your country / region an can you give me their address or e-mail or do you know how I can track them down?

  3. Do you know who might have more information that can be interesting for me and can you give me their address of e-mail? For example people at your Ministry of Health of your Ministry of Agriculture?

I would be very grateful if you can help me. Of course, I will keep you informed about my inventory if you are interested.

Thank you very much,

Yours sincerely,
Anita Jansen
Landelijk Steunpunt Landbouw & Zorg
(Dutch Support Centre Care for Farms)

(PLEASE NOTE - this email has not been was put up in her own words.)

Letter sent with this email...

Care farms: summary in English

1. What are care farms?

  • Agricultural production and care going hand in hand

    Care farms combine agricultural production and care. In most cases everything starts from an already existing farm. This will remain a farm, only now with a side branch of care.

  • Daytime occupation

    In most cases care consists of providing people with a daytime occupation that is worthwhile. The participants, also called help farmers, work along at the farm. For elderly participants the farm mainly provides an environment where they can feel at home. Everyone contributes according to their own capacities. It is not people’s limitations that are the main focus here, but rather their possibilities. For the most part they are people who need much guidance. Therefore, care farming is not an example of cheap labour. The farmer and his wife invest much time in their guidance.

  • Suitable for a wide range of people demanding care

    Care farms can help many types of people who demand care. It may concern people who are intellectually impaired, dementing elderly, psychiatric clients or addicted. Sometimes these target groups are mixed. This appears to be working quite well, because people can both help each other and appeal to each other’s abilities.

  • Small-scale operation

    Most care farms operate at a fairly small scale. On a farm of which the main branch is agricultural production the number of clients often is small (1 to 4 people a day). Nevertheless, there are also farms that have a particular focus on care rather than its production. Here it is possible to help a larger number of clients per day. The numbers are never as large as the numbers known in regular care institutions. Small-scale operation is an important plus of care farms. Small is beautiful!

  • Various types of farms and production methods

    There are many types of care farms: fruit and vegetable farms, cattle farms, biological farms and farms with traditional production.

2. Care farms in The Netherlands

  • 320 care farms

    At the moment there are about 320 care farms in The Netherlands.
    Three years ago there were still only 80. Thus, the number is increasing rapidly.
    The increase is taking place despite some obstacles, which I will come back to later on.

  • About 2000 help farmers

    On those 320 care farms about 2000 people occupy a worthwile place to work.

3. Opportunities

What are the most important opportunities for care farming?

  • Needs of the people who demand care

    The most important opportunity lies in the ever increasing demand for care and guidance that matches the specific wishes and abilities of people. Custom-made care, following demand. Care that is small-scale and that is part of everyday life as much as possible, rather than being isolated in institutions.

  • Interested farmers

    It is rather important, of course, that there are enough farmers who are willing to start a care farm.

  • Modernisation of the finance system

    The Dutch government is reorganising the financing of care. Up until now, financing is managed by large organisations. In the future, however, the client will not only have a greater say in the type of care he or she wants, but also have the liberty to buy the care wherever he or she pleases. This will make it easier to buy care from private enterprises, for example, care farms.

  • New country functions

    Providing care at farms is an enrichment of the rural country. Farmers can use their farm and knowledge for a new goal. Many care farmers claim that this is the very reason why they have regained the pleasure of being a farmer. Care farming generates additional income for the farmers, making it possible for farms to survive. Farming is also important in terms of livability and landscape preservation.

4. Obstacles

Like I mentioned before, besides opportunities there are also obstacles.

  • The current finance system
    In the current finance system the care at a farm can only be paid if it is bought through a certified care institution. This makes care farmers and clients extremely dependent upon the co-operation of care institutions.

  • Resistance at care institutions

    Care institutions still regard care farms as competitors. Because of the fact that the farms are dependent upon the institutions, co-operation between them is difficult.

  • Unfamiliarity

    Despite much publicity many people still do not know what care farms are. And to be unknown means to be unloved. Much more attention has to be attracted in order to bring about further growth.

  • Difficulties in bringing two worlds together

    Farming and care are very different worlds. It often seems as if they are talking different languages. Much energy goes into trying to understand each other and trying to achieve a good level of co-operation.

5. Finally

Care farming works! It is particularly meaningful to the clients. Feeling at home at a farm reduces their behavioural difficulties, they become more at ease, and they are often able to achieve far more things than they believed they were capable of. The daily work at the farm provides them with structure in their lives, with social contacts and with a worthwhile occupation. They discover what they like and what they are good at. In short: care farming enhances the quality of their lives.

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