Social Agriculture in Selected EU Countries: A Market Outlook

Marjolein Elings*, Deidre O'connor, Siebe Briers, Catie Burlando, Ilaria Doimo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Social agriculture is a fast-growing sector in Europe. There is a great diversity in the social agriculture landscape across Europe, depending on the national contexts. The settings in which social agriculture takes place, namely social farms, are innovative because they combine health care and social services with agricultural production. Different participant groups find their place on these social farms. Social agriculture can be beneficial for participants, providers, the environment and the wider society. In this paper, we give an overview of the social agriculture market situation in a selected number of European countries, namely the Netherlands, Flanders (Belgium), Italy, Austria and Ireland. The country focus is largely dictated by the composition of, and the resources available to the project team undertaking this study. To explain how social agriculture is organised in the different European countries reviewed, three main frameworks are used: a multifunctional agriculture, public health and a social inclusion framework. In each of the countries under review, specific regulations, funding mechanisms, cultural values and support organisations provide different contexts for the evolution of social agriculture. A Market Outlook for social agriculture in these selected countries is undertaken which addresses the demand for and supply of such services, the profile of providers and beneficiaries, the key issues relating to funding, policy, certification/quality standards and future trends impacting on the sector. To make the European social agricultural sector more sustainable, it is important to broaden the activities and target groups, raise awareness, increase visibility via communication and tailor and secure funding for the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-455
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Countryside
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • care farms
  • market outlook
  • social agriculture
  • Social farming


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