5th European COST 866 Conference in Green Care in Agriculture:

Advancing our Knowledge of Green Care in Agriculture: the State of the Art and Future Directions

24–26 August 2010, Witzenhausen, Germany

Die Abschlußtagung der "COST Action Green Care in Agriculture" fand vom 24.-26. August 2010 in Witzenhausen statt. An der Tagung nahmen Experten aus 19 europäischen Ländern teil, die sich um die wissenschaftliche Erforschung therapeutischer und sozialer Aktivitäten in der Landwirtschaft bemühen – mit dem Ziel, die mentale und physische Gesundheit von Menschen und deren Lebensqualität zu fördern. Die englischsprachige wissenschaftliche Fachtagung umfasste eine eintägige „Vorab-Tagung“ mit Simultanübersetzung der englischsprachigen Beiträge ins Deutsche, die sich speziell an deutschsprachige Teilnehmer richtete (s.o.), die COST-Tagung selbst (incl. einer ganztägigen Exkursion am 25.8.) sowie eine Exkursion speziell für ausländische Teilnehmer zu Höfen der Sozialen Landwirtschaft in Norddeutschland (27.-28.8.2010).



Final Programme:

Local Organizer:
Dr. Thomas van Elsen, Petrarca, University of Kassel, Witzenhausen, Germany

Local Organizing Committee:
Dr. Thomas van Elsen, PETRARCA, University of Kassel, Witzenhausen, Germany.
Anne Jaenichen, PETRARCA, University of Kassel, Witzenhausen, Germany.
Verena Gardowsky, PETRARCA, University of Kassel, Witzenhausen, Germany.
Katharina Mittelstraß, University of Kassel, Witzenhausen, Germany.
Christine Ghafouri, PETRARCA, University of Kassel, Witzenhausen, Germany.
Johanna Schüßler, School Farm Domain Hochburg, Emmendingen, Germany.

Scientific Committee
Dr. Thomas van Elsen, PETRARCA, University of Kassel, Witzenhausen, Germany.
Dr. Deirdre O Connor, University College Dublin, Ireland.
Dr. Katriina Soini, MTT AgriFood Research, Finland.
Dr. Joe Sempik, Centre for Child and Family Research, Department of Social Sciences, Loughborough University, United Kingdom.
Dr. Joost Dessein, Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research (ILVO), Social Sciences Unit, Belgium.
Prof. Saverio Senni, Dep. of Agricultural and Forestry Economics, Faculty of Agriculture,Tuscia University, Viterbo, Italy.
Dr. Jan Hassink, Plant Research International, Wageningen University and Research Center, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Ir. Marjolein Elings, Plant Research International, Wageningen University and Research Center, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

“Green Care” is the use of agricultural farms as a base for promoting human mental and physical health. The health sector and social services need alternatives to traditional medical treatment, therapy, rehabilitation and work training. In the countryside and on farms, the animals, the plants, the garden, the forest, and the landscape are used in recreational or work-related activities for psychiatric patients, mentally disabled persons, people with learning disabilities, people with burnout problems, people with drug problems, young people, elderly people, prisoners in farm prisons, and clients of social  services. Such activities may not be pure therapy but extensive experience suggests they may have therapeutic value. The number of such multifunctional farms offering Green Care services is increasing rapidly in Europe. Recent studies suggest the following numbers: Norway: 600, Netherlands: 830, Italy: 685, Germany: 300, Austria: 250, Belgium: 400, Slovenia: 15 and Ireland: 100. Many countries do not have good estimates and numbers are best estimates and depend on how green care is defined.

Over the last four years, EU COST Action 866 Green Care in Agriculture has aimed to increase the scientific knowledge base on the topic of Green Care in Agriculture and to shape an international research agenda around the issue.  More specifically, the focus of the Action has been on the following themes: the development of a conceptual framework for the analysis of the health effects of green care; the promotion of best practice in relation to research  methodologies in green care;  determination of the economic benefits of green care services; identification of the necessary support systems for the development of green care services; analysis of the interface between policy and practice in green care and an evaluation of the contribution of green care to agricultural, rural, health and social care policies. 

In all of these specific areas, our work has also focused on identifying the key research questions that should inform a research strategy on the topic of Green Care in Agriculture. Previous conferences and workshops undertaken by this Action have focused on presentation of research activities; discussion of the concepts and theoretical frameworks in Green Care research and addressing research needs and policy challenges. 

You are cordially invited to the final event of the Action takes place this year from 24-26 August 2010 in Witzenhausen, Germany.  We want to use this opportunity to present key findings on the above-mentioned themes to a broad range of stakeholders and to receive feedback and analysis from a range of academic and policy interests.

Event Programme:


There will be an additional “pre-conference” day before the COST event itself begins on Tuesday, 24 August 2010.  Contributors from several countries are being invited to share and discuss aspects from of their own research and their country's situation regarding green care.  It will be of particular interest to German stakeholders to learn about green care in other European countries. This additional conference day will be supported by the German Rural Areas Network (see www.netzwerk-laendlicher-raum.de/).   Simultaneous translation will be provided. People from abroad participating in this "pre-conference" event should arrive one day earlier on Sunday 22-08-2010.  Updates about this event will be available from our website soon.


TUESDAY 24 August 2010

08:00-09:00    Conference Registration

09:00-09:30    Conference Opening and Welcome from Local Hosts

09:30-09:45     Dr. Deirdre O Connor, University College Dublin, Ireland.
                          Chair of Cost Action 866      
                          Overview and Introduction to Conference
09:45-10:15     Dr. Joe Sempik, Centre for Child and Family Research,   
                          Department of Social Sciences, Loughborough University, UK.
                          Developments in Conceptual and Methodological Issues in Green Care –
                          Reflections on the State of the Art

10:15-10:45    Mr Tadeu Caldas, Ecotropic Consulting, Cologne, Germany
                         Sustainability Issues and Green Care in Agriculture

10:45-11:15  Coffee Break

11:15-11:45   Prof. Marian Barnes, Professor of Social Policy, University of
                        Brighton, UK
                        A Social Justice Perspective on Green Care in Agriculture

11:45-12:30    Plenary discussion

12:30-14:00    Lunch Break

14:00-14:30    Ms. Emma Clarence,  Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
                         Development, Local Economic and Employment Development
                         (LEED) Programme, Italy
                         A Social Economy Perspective on Green Care in Agriculture

14:30-15:00    Dr. Thomas van Elsen, PETRARCA, University of Kassel,
                         Witzenhausen, Germany.
                         Policy and Practice Interactions in Green Care: a Cross Country Analysis. 

15:00-15:30    Mr. Wolfgang Reimer, Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and
                         Consumer Protection, Germany
                         The role of multifunctional and social farming in the perspective of
                         agricultural policy
15:30-16:00   Coffee

16:00-17:00   Plenary discussion
17:00-17:15   Summary of the day

17:15              Poster Presentation and Launch of photo exhibition
                        “Faces of Social Farming” (by Daniel Thomas  Funda)

19:30              Dinner


WEDNESDAY 25 August 2010

Full day’s excursion to social farms: 

8:45    Start from Nordbahnhofstr.1a (“2” in the city-map) with 2 buses

Group A will start with the visit of Richerode Farm, and after lunch carries on to Fleckenbuehl Farm. Guides: Anne Jaenichen and Johanna Schuessler.
Group B will start with the visit of Fleckenbuehl Farm, and after lunch carries on to Richerode Farm. Guide: Thomas van Elsen.
Both tours will end up at Biohotel Laubach (Hann. Münden) for dinner at 19:30

(1) Richerode Farm: Workshop for disabled people (WfBM) with 180 users, organic mixed farm with 230 ha, winner of the “support price for organic farming” (2008):
Movie download: www.foerderpreisoekologischerlandbau.de/de/medien/filme-der-preistraeger-2008/der-film-hephata-hessisches-diakoniezentrum/
Pictures: www.foerderpreisoekologischerlandbau.de/de/medien/bilder-der-preistraeger-2008/hephata-hessisches-diakoniezentrum/
(2) Fleckenbuehl Farm: 250 ha- Biodynamic Farm run by a community of 200 for-mer addicts. Three rules are crucial for everone on the farm: No drugs, no violence, no smoking. Bakery, butchers, removal service, pottery are further enterprises of the community.
Website: www.diefleckenbuehler.de/
Brochure: www.diefleckenbuehler.de/downloads/Broschuere-die-Fleckenbuehler.pdf

19:30    Dinner at Biohotel Laubach (Hann. Münden)
21:30    Transfer to Witzenhausen (15 km)


THURSDAY 26 August 2010

9:00-9:30     Dr. Joost Dessein, Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries
                      Research (ILVO), Social Sciences Unit, Belgium.
                      Economics and Values in Green Care: What are the Issues?

9:30-11:00    Dr. Jan Hassink, Plant Research International, Wageningen,
                       The Netherlands,
                       Facilitated Discussion: Towards a Research Strategy for
                       Green Care in Europe
                       (with opening contributions from Working Group representatives)

11:00-11:30    Coffee Break

11:30-12:30    Plenary discussion

12:30-14:00    Lunch Break

14:00-14:30    Ms. Mara Lai, European Network for Rural Development (ENRD),
                         Institutional and Policy Support for the Development of Green Care in
                         Europe: Insights from a Rural Development Perspective

14:30-15:00     Mr. Michael Kügler, German Chambers of Agriculture Brussels Office
                          Green Care in Agriculture as an innovative element in EU-rural-
                          development policies: From niche to mainstream

15:00-15:30    Summary Discussion and closing remarks

15:30-16:00    Coffee Break

16:00        MC Meeting of COST Action 866

18:30        Evaluation meeting

19:30        Conference Dinner



The tour will start at 27 August at 9:00 and end at 28 August at 20:00 in Witzenhausen. The farms will be visited using a Mini-Bus. The costs will be 200€ and include travel (1.000 km), accommodation at Dannwisch Farm and all meals.

Friday 27 August

9:00    Start in Witzenhausen Nordbahnhofstr. 1a (“2” in the city-map) with mini- bus

9:15     School Farm “Hutzelberg”: Educational Farm offering stays for school classes for one week. During their stay the pupils care for the animals, work in the garden, bake bread and produce cheese – they experience farm life on a small organic farm.
Website: www.schulbauernhof-hutzelberg.de/

11:00     Travel to Weide-Hardebek (353 km, 3,5 hrs) www.weide-hardebek.de/

14:30     Arrival in Hardebek-Farm (Farm Visit, Coffee), afterwards transfer to Weide-Farm (10 km), Farm Visit
18:00     Dinner at Weide Farm

19:00     Travel to Dannwisch (38 km, 50 minutes) www.dannwisch.de
20:00     Arrival at Dannwisch-Farm
Accomodation in huts on the farm

Saturday 28 August
8:00     Breakfast together with people of Dannwisch Farm
until 11:00 Farm Visit: Farm-kindergarten, Integration of handicapped people; working with school-classes, option to buy cheese …

11:00 travel to Fuhlenhagen (82 km, 1h15) www.buschberghof.de/
12:30 Lunch at Buschberg-Farm
until 16:00 Farm visit (Integration of people with psychiatric disabilities, CSA-concept)
16:00 coffee

Travel back to Witzenhausen (324 km, 3 hrs), Arrival depending on traffic jam (bottle-neck Elbe-tunnel in Hamburg) at or after 20:00 in Witzenhausen.

General information:


The event will take place at the Faculty of Organic Agricultural Sciences, University of Kassel, Nordbahnhofstr. 1a, 37213 Witzenhausen. See  http://www.uni-kassel.de/agrar/?c=25&language=en in Witzenhausen. Witzenhausen is a small town of 15,000 inhabitants right in the center of Germany http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witzenhausen. "The University of Kassel maintains a satellite campus in Witzenhausen at which is offered the organic agricultural sciences programme, which is unique in the country. This also puts Witzenhausen among Germany’s smallest university towns." Witzenhausen can be reached by train www.uni-kassel.de/agrar/?c=65&language=en.  Arriving by plane in Hanover or Frankfurt, you will need to go by ICE (high speed train) to Goettingen or Kassel and then take the local train to Witzenhausen (for train connections: www.bahn.de).


We have already pre-booked rooms in local hotels which will be available from 20 € to 110 € (average: 50 €) per night. There are also bed and breakfast facilities (see (www.kirschenland.de)  and there is a campsite available. Participants are asked to book their own accommodation from the list of hotels provided (see below). We recommend to book as soon as possible; please mention "COST" when booking!

List of Hotels:


Registration Information:

Please complete the Conference Registration form and send it to the local organizer by email to Anne.Jaenichen[at]petrarca.info before 11 August 2010.

Registration Fee: (250 € per person) includes conference material, coffee breaks, lunches, dinners incl. conference dinner and bus travel during excursion. This will not be reimbursed by the COST office.

Registration Deadline: 11 August 2010

Meals: Meals will be provided by a local catering service. The cost of all meals is covered by the Registration Fee. 

Website information: Updates of these announcements can be found on this website.


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