Care Farming

Care farm as solution for non-native elderly people


Care farming is a concept that is gaining ground in Great Britain. Care farms, which provide specially adapted social and therapeutic services to vulnerable people, fulfil an important role. They are similar to the care farms found in the Netherlands. Care farms should be seen as fully-fledged businesses, where agricultural work and the provision of care go hand in hand. They have to fulfil certain economic and social criteria.

thousand care farms

In the Netherlands, there are already around a thousand care farms in operation. These are aimed at a particular target group: people with learning and/or physical disabilities, people in need of psychiatric or social assistance or elderly people in need of care. The farms not only provide these groups with the care they need, but also offer a worthwhile day’s work in a natural environment.

market research institute

The ZLTO is closely involved in the development of care farms, in collaboration with a number of organisations, such as Samenwerkende Zorgboeren Zuid (Collaborative Care Farmers South) and Federatie Landbouw en Zorg (Farming and Care Federation). With the support of Pure Hubs, a market research institute was used to study the possibility of caring for non-Western, non-native elderly people on care farms. This target group consists of migrants with a very specific cultural background. Older migrants, particularly those of Turkish and Moroccan origin, make relatively little use of the facilities in the Netherlands. On the other hand, most have a strong link to the countryside. Many tend their own allotment and regard nature more as a functional thing than as a place for recreation.

essential questions

The research will need to provide answers to a number of essential questions. Senior project leader Maurice van Valkenburg explains: “Who wants to participate in this? What types of collaborative relationships need to be built? How can this be financed? Where are the best opportunities? How do we set up functioning systems and methodologies aimed at this target group? The key question is: how can a profitable concept be introduced onto the market? We are expecting the results of this research in mid-March. This will immediately be followed by an action plan. After that, we will look for care farms that match the profile, so that we can start up our first pilot scheme as quickly as possible.”

In front of the door of patience there is no haste

For non-Western, non-native elderly people, the concept of a care farm is a totally new idea. We need to be patient before we can expect the idea to catch on. Anchoring it in the community requires time, a concept that is perfectly illustrated by the Moroccan saying: “In front of the door of patience there is no haste”.



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