Green Care - Social services offered in agriculture and forestry

Green Care
Photo: BMLRT

Green Care is a joint project of the Austrian Chambers of Agriculture. It adds the social component to the competences of farmers.

The project "Green Care" was launched by the Vienna Chamber of Agriculture in 2011. Just one year later all other Agriculture Chambers already cooperated in the initiative.

Green Care covers many products in the social sector which are in most cases offered  in cooperation with social agencies and institutions right on active agricultural and forestry holdings.

Austria is confronted with a series of societal challenges, among them ageing, job integration, job loss caused by psychosomatic and mental disorders, or burnout.

The many challenges in society and agriculture require new impulses and solutions.

Green Care offers valuable concepts for societal challenges in the education, health and social sectors.

Green Care is an issue in many parts of the Rural Development Programme 2014 - 2020. Especially Measure 16.9.1, which is to foster the horizontal and vertical cooperation of agricultural and forestry actors to provide and develop social services, encourages and promotes the establishment, the development  and the preparation of concepts for the field of social services of agriculture and forestry.

A system unparalleled in Europe is also the certification system which has been developed specifically for Green Care and ensures quality and security in all types of Green Care Farms. By means of specific further training programmes outstanding professional skills can be guaranteed for Green Care across Austria. This creates a win-win situation for society and agriculture.

The product range offered by Green Care comprises farms as places of work, education, health and living.

Farms as working places

Social work - meaningful occupation improves self-confidence

Under the Green Care project farms willing to help people seeking work re-enter the labour market are supported by cooperation partners. Furthermore, meaningful activities in agriculture and forestry are offered to handicapped persons at agricultural and forestry holdings.

Learning on farms

Education for sustainability

Education for sustainable development can strengthen society fundamentally. Green Care provides educational offers on exciting and diverse nature and land management  topics and includes children and teenagers just as much as handicapped persons and elderly people. Examples include kindergartens, "School on the Farm" (www.schuleambauernhof.at) and after-school care, but also (partial) apprenticeship on farms, in forests, orchards or vineyards.

Farms for health

Therapy - in and with nature

The certified Green Care farms complement traditional methods of health promotion and prevention.

Farmers and farm women offer a professional combination of a health-care job and the agricultural environment.

A wide range of opportunities, like animal-assisted intervention (www.oekl-tgi.at) or horticultural therapy, are offered at certified Green Care farms.

The chance of having a time-out at a suitable registered farm also offers many opportunities for townspeople.

Living on farms

Care & assistance - innovative approaches are needed

Together with social agencies and institutions  alternative schemes for elderly and handicapped persons have been created.

Green Care provides care and assistance products on farms which are not intended to replace conventional institutions, but make use of the social competence of agriculture to add a "green component" to the range of care and assistance services.

One clear objective is to enable elderly and handicapped persons to spend their life in a natural environment and thereby to make them enjoy their life.