The contribution of care farms to landscapes of the future: a challenge of multifunctional agriculture


  • T. Van Elsen
  • A. Günther
  • B. Pedroli


In the European context, multifunctionality is considered one of the goals of agriculture. It can present an alternative strategy besides the dominant trend to minimize labour input. Production of food can be combined with social functions, like providing space for recreation, the care for landscapes or the care for disabled or less privileged people. This chapter considers the question whether the approach to Farming for Health could also include care and therapy for nature and landscape. It appears from sociological surveys that landscape quality is generally associated with small-scale farming. On the other hand, the reasons for farmers to take care of nature and landscape consciously much depend on personal motivation. Traditional family farms usually have less time and financial support to integrate such aims than farms that integrate clients in their farming system. A survey among 48 German care farms with former drug addicts – only few of them traditional family farms – confirms that a majority of them regard landscape and nature management as preferred activities for their clients. The sense of handwork, the great variety of different tasks, natural rhythms of growth, the connection to nature and the contact with animals are reported as significant contributions to restore identity and self-esteem. Taking this seriously, Farming for Health has a large potential to enhance landscape quality