Social Farming: Heterogeneity in Social and Agricultural Relationships

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journal article
Intan S.A.
Shanti E.
Tri R.E.

Social farming (SF) has emerged as a social innovation practice shaping heterogeneous approaches and results. This study discusses the complexity of SF policy and practices, and it is led by the main hypothesis that the relationship between agricultural and social dimensions might be very heterogeneous, not only in different national contexts but also within the same national and local level. SF policy and practices are investigated testing the hypothesis of three main different modalities of interaction according to how the social and the agricultural perspectives interact. In the first, social target is not involved in the production system of the farm and the farm is the context where actions and measures of a social nature take place. In the second type of interaction, the farm employs the beneficiaries in some of its production activities collaborating with the social services. The third is where the farm organizes its activities to actively employ targeted people to enhance their social inclusion and integration in the community. Italian SF policy and practices are analyzed as case study, through the lens of sociological critical discourse analysis regarding the regional regulatory documents, and interviews for local case studies. The results of the study show that SF policy and practices might be very heterogeneous also within the same national and local level, outlining different hybridization of social and agriculture actions that can be properly analyzed through the three SF model proposal. This study contributes to the broader debate on the various dimensions of sustainability, suggesting the need for further research on the efficiency of SF as local development model sustainable in economic, social and environmental terms

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regional regulations
critical discourse analysis
social innovation
multifunctional agriculture
organic agriculture