Care farms: information in English
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 worthwile. 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.Social activation and reintegration
Besides farms where people find daytime occupation there are farms which offer social activating or work-training. For among others (ex-)addicts and long term unemployed people. In those cases work on the farm is mend to regain work-rhythm and social contacts. With the aim to find a job, or start an education. There are also farms who provide day-care for children.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, (ex)addicted or long-term unemployed people. 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 3 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.
Care farms in The Netherlands
750 care farms
At the moment there are about 750 care farms in the Netherlands. Nine years ago there were still only 75. Thus, the number is increasing rapidly.
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 match the specific wishes and abilities of people. Custom-made care is followed by demand. Care which is small-scale and which is part of everyday life as much as possible, rather than being isolated in institutions.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.
Changes in the finance system
In the current dutch finance system care and support in case of chronic diseases, handicaps and old age is organised on a national level. This system is going to change; parts of this care and support will be the responsibility of the local government. This counts for most of the care on care farms. How things will be organised is unclear at the moment. 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.
Care farms work! 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 worthwile occupation. They discover what they like and what they are good at. In short: green care farms enhance the quality of their lives.