Social Farming: an overview in the world

In light of the strategic guidelines defined by Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals established thereby, approved by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, social and care
farming is seen as a further evolution of previous agricultural models, apt at supporting sustainable development policies. Social and care farming is defined as being well-established in the local communities, respectful of the environment and able to add value to the work performed, besides being able to establish a fruitful interaction between, on the one hand, the stakeholders involved in the production process and, on the other, a more  conscientious and modern welfare system.
Growing interest towards social and care farming can be witnessed in Europe as well as elsewhere in the world, with very multifaceted points of view which may differ considerably from one another. On a global scale, the spread of social and care farming has been characterised by experimentation and research on new aspects of the  multifunctional approach, generating services and goods, contributing to the spread of ethical values as well as to strengthening the human capital and social cohesion on a local level. In the countries that lie on Africa’s Mediterranean shore, this has been applied to small-scale, family-run and subsistence farming, thus furthering the development of its educational and rehabilitation functions as well as promoting the human rights of local  populations.
The current crisis that welfare systems are undergoing in Europe as well as worldwide is a threat to the established social rights of citizens and can lead to an increase in social inequality. Within this complex framework, social and care farming is seen as one of the most effective activities that can contribute to achieving Sustainable Development Goals, such as fighting poverty and inequality, the elimination of hunger and the struggle against climate change, to mention a few.
Furthermore, it can also contribute in an effective manner to a revived relationship between Europe and the countries of the Mediterranean area, where epoch-making changes are currently taking place, redefining inclusion and cooperation policies between the states, in order to promote new relationships based on reciprocity, investing on a revived primary sector that shall produce not only goods, but also relations and dignity.
Care farming is based on the practice of both traditional and innovative values as well as on the interaction between different needs, knowledge and cultures. It constitutes a process that leads to the awareness of responsibility on an individual as well as on a community level, harmonising the concepts of food sovereignty and economic  sustainability with responsibility towards the environment, the local community and the territory with its common goods.

Within the new European Strategy 2020, social farming is considered a fundamental practise that transects not only agrarian activity but other key sectors such as health care, social services, environment, and employment, to promote sustainable and inclusive growth in rural and often marginalised areas.
In recent years, different national governments have promoted SF in several ways, with the support of EU grants based on economic diversification policies, social inclusion and rural development.
Current debate in Europe, however, still presents a lack of an agreed common definition of Social Farming, with different conceptualisations being used, both amongst academics and the actors involved (peasants, users, third sector, public administrations). There is no single, precise definition of the concept nor a consensus about the range, differences or intersections with other associated initiatives such as Green Care, Farming for Health, Green  Therapies, Animal Assisted Therapies, Horticultural therapy, etc. However, this must take into account that Social Farming is not a fix nor harmonized concept but a changing and developing one and any definition can not be narrow.
Actually in the EU countries numerous models exist that combine voluntary and public social services initiatives, public and private funding, and regulations concerning employment, social outreach and economic support for at risk groups and individuals.
The current crisis that welfare systems are undergoing in Europe as well as worldwide is a threat to the established social rights of citizens and can lead to an increase in social inequality. Within this complex framework, social and care farming is seen as one of the most effective activities that can contribute to achieving Sustainable Development Goals, such as fighting poverty and inequality, the elimination of hunger and the struggle against climate change, to mention a few.

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