Social farms in Visegrad countries
Welcome to our „Social farms in Visegrad countries” project! From October 2016 to September 2017 we are going to explore social farm initiatives and collect best practices in the Visegrad countries. In Western and Northern Europe the emergence and spreading of social farms started decades ago, in Eastern Europe this process has started in recent years. We presume that due to our common history before the period of the regime change we face similar difficulties and challenges in the area of social farming initiatives.
The aims of the project: The overall objective of this project proposal is to compile best-practices from V4 countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia) in relation to social farming and organic agriculture, as these countries have very similar history that influenced the development of agriculture and thus social farms, similar agricultural position in Europe (also with regard to organic agriculture), similar conditions in order to achieve successful social farm system-operation, and similar difficulties and challenges that comes from our common history before the period of the regime change (the V4 countries’ agricultural sector was managed along the same principles, characterized mainly by collectivization, large-state-owned agricultural cooperatives, fertilizer-based crop production intensification, etc.).
In addition to mapping out the social farm situation of V4 countries, we will concentrate on local good-practices in V4 countries. The planned best-practice collection differs from western and northern European examples (such as Camphill communities, care farms) as gathered V4 best-practices operate and must operate under national V4 circumstances. Although certain elements transferred from Western and Northern countries are surely recognizable in V4 good-practices, the country-specific features predominate. The collection of V4 good-practices beside the well-known western and northern patterns would assist in the successful operation of social farms under the legal framework of the Central East European Visegrad countries.
We would also like to demonstrate how the social pillar can be integrated into the organic farming system. Our further intention with our planned project result is to develop trainings where farmers can learn how to convert their organic farm into a social farm. For that planned training the elaborated V4 best-practice collection could be used as teaching material.
Social integration of disadvantaged groups presents a real challenge at national and international level. Social farming provides an efficient means for the mental and health development and at the same time the employment of disabled and disadvantaged people. Organic farming and social farming dovetail, as both relate to a complex re-framing of agriculture and rural areas to provide a socially and environmentally sustainable model, compared to the currently dominant agribusiness model of farming and the countryside. Farms (and particularly organic farms) can provide very appropriate sites and centres for social farming, which a wide range of participants can be attracted to and benefiting from.
The background and history of social farm development in western and northern European countries differ from country to country, nevertheless there are certain similarities that can be recognized when regarding their best-practices. If we observe the social farm initiatives of West and/or North European countries, the most obvious familiarity we find that they started to develop and operate social farms much earlier than the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. In Western and Northern Europe differences may originate from country’s culture, the application of different health and social services, or various operational forms in their agricultural and social sectors. Conversely, in V4 countries, the social farm system is still in its infancy, and although studies describe in detail the operating principles, objectives, target audience, benefits, and good practices transferred from western and northern countries, V4 countries need to face similar difficulties and challenges that originate from their common history and only recently started social farming.
Szent István University in Gödöllő (Hungary)
University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice (Czech Republic)
Agricultural Advisory Centre in Brwinów Branch in Kraków (Poland)
Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra (Slovakia)
Presentations of the 1st International Meeting, 21st-22nd November 2016, Gödöllő, Hungary
Presentations of the 2nd International Meeting, 30-31 May 2017, České Budějovice, Czech Republic
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Szent István University
Department of Ecological Farming
1 Páter Károly street