If European farms provide food production and countryside maintenance, they can also provide health and therapeutic benefits: it is the aim of social farming or “Green care”. This concept consists in using the farm labour to provide health, social or educational care services for vulnerable people: for instance, people with mental health problems, suffering from depression, with a drug or alcohol addiction history, adults and children with learning disabilities, children with autism, etc. This increasing market sector diversifies the farmers’ income and values their contribution to the society.
L’Olivera is a Catalonian cooperative specialised in organic agriculture as well as producing wine and olive oil. The first goal of the L’Olivera social farming project is to provide personal development and inclusion for people with disabilities.
The second goal is to gain added value from this social experience, by enhancing it and by developing the rural economy with local resources.
Among its 36 workers, 9 have disabilities. These disabled people help the organisation processing their agricultural products by themselves. Thanks to the EAFRD (European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development), the cooperative created 3 additional “green care” jobs through a development project that helped modernising the wine production process and improving visitors’ facilities.
In addition to developing their own market, L’Olivera’s involvement in rural tourism also contributed in the increasing of other stockholders’ income. For instance, a series of enotourism routes have been put in place to direct tourists among the mountainous area where l’Olivera is located and encourage them to visit other shops providing local food and wine specialities. In addition, such recognition for the work of disabled people encourages them to continue with their activity, which is beneficial for rural care services but also for quality agricultural products.
This is a summary of a Good practice published by the European Network for Rural Development (project examples 2007-2013).17 November 2014