What is care farming?

Care farming means the therapeutic use of farming practices. It's sometimes called social farming. 

Care farming sits amongst other nature-based therapies that are collectively called 'green care'. Green care means structured nature programmes for people with a defined need to benefit health, social care or education outcomes. Social Farms & Gardens is a founding member of the Green Care Coalition. The coalition represents green care providers in the UK and promotes green care as effective option for health and social care.  

People attend care farms for different reasons. It can be for health and social care, mental health and wellbeing, rehabilitation or a specialist education programme.

There are around 400 care farms of all shapes and sizes right across the UK providing care places. Care farms can look very different from each other and are as diverse as the people that they support. 

One thing all care farms have is common is providing a supervised, structured programme of farm-related activity for people with a defined need. Care is bespoke, person-centred and focused on the individual.

What is unique, is that care farming activity has a real purpose behind it. People are able to make a meaningful contribution to the running of a farm. This might be through animal care, growing crops and vegetables, horticulture or land management.

People who commission care services are increasingly recognising the benefits of care farming. 

Care farms: 

  • Deliver health care, social care or specialist educational services for individuals from one or a range of vulnerable groups of people
  • Provide a programme of farming-related activities for individuals with a defined need
  • Provide supervised, structured, bespoke care services on a regular basis for service users
  • Are commissioned to provide services by a range of referral agencies 
  • Deliver services for adults, young people and children

Take a closer look at care farms with our care farming case studies

Related articles

What is the Growing Care Farming project?

Social Farms & Gardens, in partnership with Thrive, delivered the Growing Care Farming Project between May 2019 - March 2022.  

What is the scale of care farming in the UK?

We track the scale and scope of the care farming sector and provide valuable data for care farmers and the green care sector. 

Wider benefits of care farming?

Care farming is a good thing in lots of different ways. Find out how it helps service users, health and social care providers, farmers and wider society. 

Why does care farming work?

Care farming is a powerful mix of nature, social interaction and meaningful farming activity. Understand why care farming changes people's lives.

Who is care farming for?

Agricultural settings can help a wide range of people improve their health and wellbeing. Discover who can benefit from care farming.