FASST - Formazione per l'Agricoltura Sociale
 e Sviluppo Territoriale

Planning and Deploying effective Social Farming Initiatives - Operative Phases


Planning and Deploying effective Social Farming Initiatives - Operative Phases

Social Farming Planning



The objective of this module is to present indications to plan effective social farming initiatives. The main aspects of planning and operational activities are described, focusing on the subjects of social agriculture and the working group. Subsequently, some suggestions are made regarding the choice of objectives, training, safety and the ways in which disadvantaged people are involved. Finally, monitoring and evaluation activities are illustrated. This activities allow to understand the effectiveness of social farming projects and to make any changes and improvements based on the degree of achievement of the objectives set.

 Contents in bullet points
1. Module : Planning and Deploying effective Social Farming Initiatives 1.1. Unit: Activities Planning 1.1.1. Social Farming Subjects 1.1.2. Steps in planning process Contents: Partners research The network of relationship Partnership agreement 1.1.3. The working group Contents: The agricultural entrepreneur Social and health professionals The tutor Characteristics of the tutor Agricultural professionalism Social professionalism 2. Unit: Operative Phases 2.1.1. Objectives 2.1.2. The choice of effective activities 2.1.3. Planning activities 2.1.4. Safety precautions 2.1.5. Initial training 2.1.6. Communications methods 2.1.7. Involvement methods 2.2. Unit: Evaluation of activities 2.2.1. Monitoring and evaluation Contents: Monitoring and evaluation The evaluation The variables of evaluation The steps of evaluation The initial evaluation The ongoing evaluation The final evaluation 2.2.2. The effectiveness of the path 2.2.3. Evaluation methods


 Planning and Deploying effective Social Farming Initiatives - Operative Phases

Planning and Deploying effective Social Farming Initiatives - Operative Phases


•This unit presents some indications on the operating methods for organizing social farming initiatives: in particular, the methods for choosing objectives, training activities, the safety and the methods for involving disadvantaged people will be described.

  The objectives

In the planning phase, it is important set objectives to be achieved through social farming projects

Objectives can involve:

  • Physical area
  • Skills area
  • Psychic area
  • Relational / behavioral area


For further details about horticultural activities and therapeutic objectives refer Righetto C. “ Giardini per rivivere: orticoltura e giardinaggio a fini terapeutici in contesti sanitari”, p. 196-201

  • Physical Area: coordination of movements, development of physical strength, balance control
  • Skill Area: calculation skills, reading, organization skills, programming, following instructions, memory development;
  • Psychological area: anxiety reduction, stress, acceptance of failure, self-control;
  • Relational/behavioral area: socialization, impulse control, mood improvement, establishing new relations communication skills.

  The choice of effective activities

The choice of the activities to be carried out must be in line with the objectives to be achieved considering the relational area and the skills.



The observation made by the tutor and by the company contact person during the activities is fundamental for a continuous adaptation of the activities to the needs of the people involved.

The characteristics of the activities to be carried out:

modularity: designed with modules, reproducible and adaptable to the changing needs of the people involved and of the company.

coherent with the personal abilities of the subject.

not too simple, but without requiring an effort above the user's possibilities.

gradual difficulty to avoid the sense of frustration

The characteristics of the activities to be carried out:

stimulating by providing commitment and fostering self-confidence.

with an established duration (start - end)

significant: performing activities perceived as useful increases the sense of satisfaction and appreciation for the results achieved.

  Planning activities

It is possible to create a program on a weekly / monthly / annual basis with the involvement of all the participants.

An effective program should be continuous, lasting and it must provide:

- activities that succeed one another

- mutually linked projects


This facilitates personal growth and avoids the sense of confusion given by randomly managing events.

The purpose of the program  (except in vocational program) is:

the involvement and to encourage users to expand themselves

avoinding placing too much value on the end product of an activity

  Safety precautions

The organization and the structure of the activity space must be based on the needs and abilities of those served. This precautions allow the users to access  the space and to partecipate to the activities.

It's necessary to carry   out   specific   risk   assessments: the farm must be ready to host people without any experiences of an agricultural context

A model of safety precautions in horticulture

Haller R.L., Capra .L.C. (2017) Horticultural Therapy Methods: Connecting People and Plants in Health Care,CRC Press, p.33.


In Italy the current legislation about safety of workers is the Legislative Decree N° 81 of 30 April 2008.


For futher details about safety of workers in agriculture:

“Protecting health and safety of workers in agriculture, livestock farming, horticulture and forestry”, European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, 2011.



The insurance

Verify that the current farm insurance fully cover the agricultural entrepreneur for taking on social farming clients.

Evaluate the possibility to expand the current farm insurance cover.

  Initial training

Initial training allows people to participate in the activities and to be aware of that will be carried out.

It may be partly theoretical and partly practical "in the field".

It should also include the contractual and workplace safety regulations.

It is important that anyone present on the farm during social farming activities has been well briefed on health and safety procedures.

Topics for initial training

  • presentation of the farm, the workplace and where take break
  • the activities to be carried out
  • the working hours, breaks and if required the mode of consumption of meals.
  • how to use the tools
  • how to use any personal protective equipment that people will need to use.
  • the hygiene precautions especially before meals.
  • the safety rules

  Communications methods

Communications with people who have intellectual and learning difficulties may be difficult and require special measures to communicate the message.

It is necessary to explain slowly the message to give  the people time to understand, think and respond to what is been asked for them.

It's important not to put the person in difficulty if the message is not understood properly, to apologize for not being clear and repeat the explanation. 

  Involvement methods

It is important to follow with particular care the start phase of the project and the beginning of daily tasks.

It is useful to start gradually with simple and familiar activities to increase the sense of security, facilitate the first approach to work and interactions with others.

Later, more complex activities can be organized.


Examples of gradual activities

Use watering can of 1 L –  3 L –  until 5 L.


Experiment with different activities to identify the most suitable type  based on physical commitment

The purpose is not only to develop manual and cognitive skills but above all relational skills with the group and the operators, the assumption of responsibility and the spirit of initiative.


• Identify the network of subjects involved in social farming initiatives. • Understand the composition of the working group and the professional skills involved. • Effectively plan social farming initiatives by defining objectives and activities. • Evaluate the elements that guide the choice of social farming activities. • Identify the characteristics of training for users involved in social farming activities and how to communicate with them. • Understand the importance of monitoring and evaluating social farming activities. • Recognize the different variables that influence the evaluation process.. • Know the basic tools to evaluate the effectiveness of social farming activities.


Comunello F., Berti E., (2013) "Fattoria sociale" Erickson.

Di Iacovo F. (2010) “L’agricoltura sociale: pratiche e paradigmi nello scenario comunitario”, L’agricoltura oltre le crisi”, Atti XLVII Convegno di Studi SIDEA Campobasso, 22-25 settembre 2010

Di Iacovo F. (a cura di) (2008), Agricoltura sociale: quando le campagne coltivano valori, FrancoAngeli, Milano.


Di Iacovo F., Moruzzo R., Rossignoli C., Scarpellini P., (2013), “Progettare l'agricoltura sociale”, Quaderni Cesvot. https://www.cesvot.it/documentazione/progettare-lagricoltura-sociale


Di Iacovo F., O’Connor D. (a cura di) (2009), Supporting Policies for Social Farming in Europe: Progressing Multifunctionality in Responsive Rural Areas, Arsia, Lcd, Firenze.


Giarè F., Macrì M.C. La valutazione delle azioni innovative di agricoltura sociale, Inea 2012. http://dspace.inea.it/handle/inea/513

Haller R., Capra L. C. (2016), "Horticultural therapy methods", CRC Press,



Inea (2011), Agricoltura, ambiente e societĂ , Il Sole 24 Ore Agrisole.


Inea (2012) La valuzione delle azioni innovative di agricoltura sociale  http://dspace.crea.gov.it/handle/inea/513


Kinsella J. (2014), Social Farming Handbook: Guidelines for considering, planning, delivering and using social farming services in Ireland and Northern Ireland, School of Agriculture and Food Science,University College Dublin.

Michaelson J., Mahony S. Schifferes J. (2012),“Measuring Well-being: A guide for practitioners” Nef.

Pascale A. (2009), "Linee guida per progettare iniziative di Agricoltura Sociale, INEA, Roma.


Ricciardi G., Dara Guccione G. (2018) “I beneficiari degli interventi di AS”, Roma 23 Aprile CREA-PB.

Righetto, Costantina (2015) Giardini per rivivere: orticoltura e giardinaggio a fini terapeutici in contesti sanitari, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum UniversitĂ  di Bologna. http://amsdottorato.unibo.it/7169/

Sempik J., Hine R., Wilcox D., (2010) “Green Care:A Conceptual Framework”, Loughborough University.

Zampetti A. (2017), “Agricultura sociale. Seminare innovazione nei territori”, Kairos Cooperativa Sociale.

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