Intro

As the M.A.I.E. flier states, the Czech republic finds itself in pioneer status of Social farming matters. There are few separate projects joining activities from social and agriculture spheres, it mostly happens with very weak acceptance of official authorities and low either financial or methodical support.

Particular expression “Social farming” (“sociální zemědělství” in CZ translation) is unknown in our country, when google it, you only find websites linked with our NGO AREA viva or our organic farm Biostatek, where we run programs of Social farming (clients are socially excluded youth).

It is new expressions that nor farmers or social workers know what content could be hidden under it. There is no link between these two terms or even issues in our country.

Fragmentation

There exist separate projects... so separate, that there has not revealed any need to find suitable general term to cover it. Sometimes providers of Social programs know each other, but only in non-formal way – they spontaneously create unofficial community.

Social farming is not recognized as a distinctive topic to write articles or publications of it. Sometimes few pages in a monograph or lines in magazine article talk about it.

Instead of general support for disabled (which is rather matter of employment than Social farming) no governmental support exists either permanent or even annual.

Overview about running projects describes situation of Social farming in our country briefly and readably:

Goat farm Nová Víska – In ancient times (40 years ago) administrative of city of Prague deserved to hide their mentally disabled citizens anywhere. They chose extremely undeveloped region of northern Bohemia. After Velvet revolution an enlightenment came to this place and newly founded NGO bought a former cowshed to convert it into a goat farm providing working therapy for disabled citizens of Prague. They did not work very effectively, so farmers' income could not base the profit on production. So it was managment of nursing house, that financially compensated the farmers' care of their clients. Goat farm Nová Víska was quite often mentioned in expert media as an example of good practice how to treat mentally disabled persons. It worked out well until about 5years ago, when administrative of city of Prague decided: too much money are spent for useless activities for some other subject... the farm owned by NGO. Game over, the farm produces great organic goat cheese and disabled persons are locked in a house down in a village.

Social farm Vlčkovice – Former fortress in Central Bohemia... „It is not that difficult to convert conventional farm into social one. You can build up facilities with your friends or groups of volunteers, you can even find financial sources to cover it. Problem comes when you ask money for regular daily work with however disabled or excluded persons. There is plenty of sensible work to do around, well studied assistant ready to start their job but public financial resources are rather open to keep disabled persons somewhere indoor with full service or completely outside without any help“ says Bc. Jan Počepický, chairman of Vlčkovice farm that is ready to offer its capacities for Social farming programs. His team could even provide service of social prevention to re-socialize excluded persons at the farm with low assistance, control and of course budget. There are no resources to cover even social workers to keep the work going on.

Social Farm ChedrbíSheltered workshop run by Diakonia of the the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren – Centre Čáslav – eastern Bohemia – Men in the sheltered workshop were fed up by knitting, crocheting, pottery... and asked for some harder labour. So the chairman of local Diakonia branch David Šourek travelled around Europe to get inspiration from abroad, brought some form Netherlands and rent a farm nearby. Now they offer the disabled both: day care, where clients just come at the farm in the morning and leave after working period, or even hosting clients permanently. In that case the farmer's goal is not production, but employing people with handicap. David Šourek points out the same problem as Bc. Počepický: unexpected decreasing of governmental financial support for handicapped people itself. The farm is ready to employ, but who would pay the workers? „Until 2013 EU social program EQUAL covers every single worker's personal cost. And then? We will have to find money somewhere else or be radical and even close the farm.“

The Farm Freedom – Mr. Cvrček is a lawyer in a county town Ústí nad Labem. He inherited farmyard ca. 50km far from his office so he employed 3 disabled and 2 slightly mentally handicapped persons on the place. They are able to reach the place by themselves from their homes, so they do not stay on the farm permanently. Mr. Cvrček givec the workers regular wage and he receives financial support from Employment office as a compensation of their lower efficiency. Mr. Crvček cannot afford to pay the workers neither social nor methodical assistance, he only gives the . The farm produces corn and beef. As mentioned below, there is new law coming into validity in next few months worsening conditions for employing disabled so he is ready to send the cattle to slaughterhouse and dismiss the employees. What a pity. The Freedom is one of three farms in Czech republic that opens its gate to disabled persons.

Prison Belušice and Drahonice – Czech prisons are ordered to employ part of prisoners, at least 60% of suitable ones. These mentioned prisons describe themselves as those who fill this task successfully and both send their prisoners to work in commercial sector. Seasonally it is even agriculture. Guarded group of prisoners comes to a farm in the morning for 8hrs. long working period for minimal wage paied by the farmer. In general, prisoners are motivated to work, because it gives them opportunity to leave prison area. They work effectively, because their exclusion is not based on mental or physical disability. At last they are guards around.

Central governmental financial support of Employment office causes, that most usual clients of Social farming programmes are persons with physical handicap. In fact we can say: Target group is created by those the employer gets financial support for.

Then these clients are described as disabled persons (osoby zdravotně postižené - OZP) and must be so recognized by authorized physician. These persons are first trained in to at least get a job in open market of jobs and then assisted to keep it. The support is organized and fully covered by Employment office and lasts up to 24 months. It is rather matter of employment than social issue.

Jobs for disabled persons are called “protected” and employers are contributed to found them: if more than 50% of their employees are disabled, they get up to CZE 8.000,-/month/disabled employee (EUR 320,-). Employers are also contributed to run “sheltered workshop”, where more than 60% employees are disabled. Employers of more than 25 employees must employ at least 4% of disabled.

According to official list of organizations employing disabled issued by Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs there are 859 employers of ca. 34,500 disabled, just 3 (three) employers of them are agriculturists and provide 47 jobs.

All three (Freedom farm is one of them) of them run their farm by themselves and keep disabled persons only due to their social heart – as they said. None of them hires any social worker or trained person to assist the disabled.

Anyway, a new law is coming to be valid since July 2012. It changes situation that strongly that all the three Social farmers would give their social effort up. According to the new law only jobs accredited by Employment office are to be accepted (more papers and inspections), an employer first has to employ disabled person for 12 months and after that can demand for contribution (no support for first 1 year), financial support ceiling is CZE 6.000,- (25% less money).

Community service:

1)  Long term unemployed persons are financially supported, it is not possible to employ them by commercial enterprise, just under public bodies, no farmers. No public farms exists in our country.

2)   Organised by Probation and Mediation Service as an alternative penalty, for public bodies only again.

Lot to do in Social farming sphere in our country.