That of Social Farm it is a work and life model that brings benefits to the community in two respects: the social and work integration of disadvantaged people and the protection of the agricultural heritage of fragile areas with organic farming. Over the past three years there has been a notable increase in the number of social farms in all Italian regions, but many problems remain to be solved. Let's try to understand better.
There Social Farm is an economically and financially sustainable company that carries out agricultural and livestock production activities associated with a series of services: rehabilitation, welfare, training and employment for the benefit of vulnerable subjects (handicapped, drug addicts, prisoners, the elderly, children) in fragile areas rural (mountains, isolated centers, protected green areas) and urban areas in collaboration with public institutions and in synergy with third sector associations.
At the base of the Social Farm there is the fact that agriculture, over the years, has demonstrated the ability to go beyond specific and historical agricultural production with a multifunctionality that today translates into the production not only of traditional agricultural or zootechnical foods and services, but also of intangible goods and services of social utility.
All the surveys conducted at the territorial level, in particular by the Regions, despite the lack of a coordinated framework of reference, have certified the validity of the scientific studies that recognize agricultural activity and the model of Social Farm peculiarities and strengths for the benefit of those at risk of marginalization, in particular:
- The flexibility of the work organization in terms of hours and duties, diversified over the seasons, which allows for the enhancement of different professional skills and attitudes.
- The outdoor work environment that allows you to activate therapeutic practices in informal and less institutional settings, promoting social and work inclusion in more rewarding contexts.
- The relationship with nature that facilitates the establishment of autonomy paths through the assumption of responsibility towards plants and animals, which require regular and recurring care.
- The relationship with consumers and with all the players in the area that offers a variety of relationships that increase self-esteem, well-being and personal satisfaction.
But what is the situation? Given the above, the development of the Social Farm continues to encounter difficulties of various kinds, largely linked to the aforementioned absence of a defined juridical-institutional structure; consequently the social farms they are almost always born behind the strong personal ethical motivations of their promoters, who carry on by themselves a function of collective interest.
According to the 'Reconnaissance of the social farms in the Lombardy region conducted by the Lombardy Region in 2012, the priorities reported by the conductors of social farms are: the need for training of the social farmer; agreements with corporate bodies and health and social services; the creation of a regional network of social farms.