People with special needs are in danger of segregation and their chances in the labour market are very limited. Promoting their professional inclusion is of the utmost significance, as it provides realization, autonomy, inclusion and a better quality of life.
In this context farming appears as a good niche for their inclusion, as long as the right kind of training contents, methods and qualified professionals are put into it. This has been widely proven by the FMM and many organizations in the field of Social Farming, which includes activities based on the interaction with agricultural environments to produce social services promoting social inclusion (e.g. therapy, life-long education, employment integration, etc.). Among other groups, Social Farming is addressed to people with special needs, and has proven effective in enhancing their health, quality of life, social inclusion and skills development.
Furthermore, contextual factors such as the environmental and the rural areas crisis, open new opportunities for an active participation of these social groups in the Green Farming Sectors (including here different farming activities and approaches promoting a more sustainable agriculture, as well as associated economic sectors, e.g. processing, marketing).
With agriculture being frequently identified as environmentally impacting, demand for more sustainable farming is raising and a range of low impact and integrative farming approaches are receiving more attention (e.g. agroecological, polyfarming, organic production, short supply chains, etc.). For these greener farming approaches, production is a part of an inclusive system, and it has an influence in the environment and society.
Most interestingly, these non-conventional farming models tend to be more labor intensive when compared to conventional farming, thus creating more employment opportunities. This and the fact of generating positive environmental impacts, makes the Green Farming Sectors of particular interest for the training and socio-professional inclusion of persons with special needs, which is the ultimate aim of this project. This can be a very empowering strategy, as these social groups, instead of being excluded, could become drivers of change towards a more sustainable farming.
However, for this to become a reality, proper training is needed. In this context, Vocational Training shows an enormous potential, provided high quality VET adapted to persons with special needs is promoted.