Social Farming for the Elderly

The FarmElder project aims to offer farmers the opportunity to engage in social farming.


Social farming is defined by Di Iacovo and O’Connor, 2009 as ‘short or long-term activities that use agricultural resources such as animals and plants to promote and generate social services in rural areas. Examples of these services include rehabilitation, therapy, sheltered employment, life-long education and other activities that contribute to social inclusion.’ From our collective involvement in social farming we have identified an opportunity to marry the benefits of social farming with the needs of elderly people.

The FarmElder project aims to offer farmers the opportunity to engage in social farming. For farmers already engaged in social farming, FarmElder will provide them with training on how to work with elderly people. It will help them team up with new service providers and advocates and grow the profile of their work.

Short or long-term activities that use agricultural resources such as animals and plants to promote and generate social services in rural areas. Examples of these services include rehabilitation, therapy, sheltered employment, life-long education, and other activities that contribute to social inclusion

Francesco Di Iacovo & Deirdre O’Connor (eds.) (2009). Supporting Policies for Social Farming in Europe. Progressing Multifunctionality in Responsive Rural Areas. ARSIA, Firenze


Key Objectives of the Project

Identify & increase

awareness of the needs of the elderly in partner countries and across Europe


the benefits of social farming


the effectiveness of social farming as a form of therapy and meaningful activity for the elderly


an adult education training course in social farming with a focus on the elderly


farmers, service providers, health care providers, and other stakeholders with the knowledge and skills to engage in social farming


the uptake of social farming by farmers


the importance of social farming to policy makers and relevant representative organizations


the capacity of educational organizations to deliver training on social farming and its application to the elderly


the capacity of the project partnership, collectively and individually, to be effective advocates for social farming as a whole as well as for the elderly.


the number of farms offering social farming for the elderly in the long-term


Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest

With over 14,000 students on six campuses in Ireland’s Midwest and Midlands, TUS is one of Ireland’s newest and most unique Technological Universities.

European Landowners' Organization

The European Landowners Organization, created in 1972, is a unique federation of national associations from the EU28, which represents the interests of the landowners, land and forest managers and rural entrepreneurs at the European political level.

Hof und Leben GmbH

Hof und Leben GmbH (HuL) was established in 2009. HuL is an independent SME focused on business consulting for family farmers.

South Kerry Development Partnership Limited

South Kerry Development Partnership CLG is an experienced rural development organisation which has successfully implemented numerous State & EU funded rural development programmes since its foundation in 1991.

Mozaic - Association for social inclusion

The Mozaic Association is actively involved in the social inclusion of vulnerable social groups in the rural region of Pomurje, Slovenia.

Biotechnical center Naklo

Biotechnical Centre Naklo is an educational institution with 113 years of tradition. It is organized in 3 units: Secondary school, Vocational College and Research Unit and Inter-Enterprise Educational Centre covering Project Office, Adult Education Unit, Shop, Dairy and Practical Workshops.

Hochschule für nachhaltige Entwicklung

The University for Sustainable Development Eberswalde (HNEE) in Germany is a university of applied sciences that has been dedicated to sustainable research and teaching for 190 years.

Associação de Desenvolvimento Rural Integrado das Serras do Montemuro, Arada e Gralheira

Association for the Rural Development of the Montemuro, Arada and Gralheira Mountains – is a private and non-profit organization, created in 1991, located in Arouca, Portugal, whose primary aim is local development, promoting the local resources and taking advantage of the endogenous resources that the area offers.

Key project activities


key issues and needs facing elderly people and how social farming addresses these needs


how social farming can be a pathway to overcoming social inclusion barriers for the elderly in remote and/or rural areas


an online training course to educate and build skills in supporting social farming activities for the elderly


a series of 4 high quality short videos, describing successful practices, and highlighting key themes examined during the project


2 Learning Teaching & Training Activities with a unique focus on key aspects of social farming


project results at five conferences to a wide range of stakeholders and beneficiaries across partner countries

Long-term impacts


impact within the farming community, especially with farmers on more marginal holdings as it provides them with opportunities to increase their viability


old-age service providers and associations to examine their activities and explore the potential of using social farming therapies for their clients


policy makers at local, national, & regional levels of the potential of social farming and as an applied meaningful activity/therapy for the elderly


attention to the needs of the elderly and their importance in policy planning. FarmElder, coming at the start of the UN decade for the elderly, will highlight the importance of considering the needs of this very important and valuable segment of society

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