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Between agriculture and social work,
non for profit and entrepreneurship

The term “agricoltura sociale” (i.e. social farming) has recently entered the scene of rural development in Italy, embracing a wide constellation of different practices that are emerging in our territories; experiences that, in many cases, were born as bottom-up actions and have “grown in the shade” for long time. In synthesis, practices of social farming may be divided in the following main categories: (1) care and socio-rehabilitative integration (“occupational therapy”); (2) training and labour integration (i.e. employment) of disadvantaged categories; (3) socio-recreation and/or education of people with special needs.

Initiatives are mainly carried out by two kind of actors: (1) “non for profit” enterprises (i.e. social cooperatives) that operate in social/care sector or promote business with a specific purpose of integrating disadvantaged categories in labour; (2) private farms, that are “for profit” enterprises in the agricultural sector. Public institutions play then important roles, according to a logic of decentralised, community-based model of “welfare-mix” (i.e. public-private integration). Finally, voluntary-based associations of diverse nature play relevant complementary roles as triggers and/or for intermediation and support, working in liaison with enterprises, public bodies, persons with special needs, and the wider community.