Farming for Health in The Netherlands


  • M. Elings
  • J. Hassink


Farming for Health is a growing phenomenon in The Netherlands. The most significant exponent is the Green Care farm. The number of Green Care farms has increased from 75 in 1998 to 430 in 2004. Different target groups make use of Green Care farms: clients with a mental disability, with psychiatric problems, elderly (with dementia), clients with an addiction history, people with burn-out, children and long-term unemployed persons. In urban areas the health-promoting qualities of city farms, community and allotment gardens and healing gardens is getting more attention. The experiences of different target groups on Green Care farms and on urban green locations are positive. The farm or green environment can improve physical, social and psychic health. The Green Care sector consists of an extensive network, including a national support centre and association of Green Care farmers. Different research projects have started. They focus on the effects of Green Care farms and nature on the well-being of clients and citizens and the health-promoting aspects of the green environment. Several educational initiatives have started. Main challenges are: * to bridge urban and rural networks * to develop sustainable financing structures for Farming for Health * to develop scientific evidence for the positive effects of Green Care farms and nature on health and well-being, and to determine the health-promoting aspects for different target groups * to use farms and nature not only in a curative way but also for prevention, and * to develop new systems that combine agriculture, care, recreation and education