The characteristics of Dutch Care Farms A short overview (Öffnet externen Link in neuem FensterPDF)


The last decade the green care farm sector has grown in number of farms, but also in the sense of professionalism. Nowadays there is a national platform and several regional platforms which offers a wide range of services for clients and the care farms. On these green care farms are offered a wide range of care activities, day-care or 24/7 care.

Number of farms

The number of care farms has increased considerably over the last 13 years. In 1998 the number of registered care farms was about 75, whereas at the moment, the Netherlands has about 1.050 care farms in 2011 (Bruin, 2009; Venema, 2012). The number of clients making use of a care farm shows steady increase, grow to approximately 10.000 per week. (Hassink et al, 2007)

Type of farms

Care farms in the Netherlands can be divided into two major groups. The first group of farms are the traditional family farms that want to generate additional income by diversification with care farming. The focus of these farms stays on the agricultural activity, at least in the first years. On the second group of farms, care has a central position from the beginning. The agricultural activities serve more as therapeutic means, although they may also generate financial output in the long run. Apart from the division of care farms into two groups, the care farming sector in the Netherlands is characterized by a large diversity (Oltmer, Venema, 2008; Elings and Hassink, 2006)


Turnover of the care branch at businesses varies between 60.000 en 85.000 Euros per year. In the period 2007 to 2012 total turnover of care farms rose by 35 million Euros. (Venema et. al, 2012).

Target groups

Over the last years, care farms offer services to an increasing number of different target groups. There are several different target groups the farms may focus on. Mentally challenged people, people with psychiatric demand, people who used to be addicted to drugs or alcohol, long-term unemployed people, elderly people (with or without dementia), ex-prisoners, people (particularly children) with an autism spectrum disorder, young people with learning disabilities and children, people with non-congenital brain damage, asylum seekers, child care, people with burn-out. (Bruin, 2009; Oltmer, 2008; Handboek Landbouw en Zorg Verenigde Zorgboeren, 2007)


For green care farms in the Netherlands it is possible to get a brand for the quality of the care provided at the green care farm. This brand “Kwaliteitswaarborg zorgboerderijen” makes it possible for a green care farm to show and monitor in what way they work on quality.


Several schools have an vocational education programme specialised on green care farming. Besides there are a number of different courses for people who want to learn more about green care farms. This courses are about how to start a green care farm but also about how to work with people with a disability.

Literature: Bruin, S.R. de \ 2009: Sowing in the autumn season : exploring benefits of green care farms for dementia patients [PhD thesis] Elings, M. and J. Hassink \ 2006: Farming for Health in the Netherlands. Pp. 163-179 in J. Hassink and M. van Dijk eds., Farming for Health (Dordrecht: Springer) Hassink, J., C. Zwartebol, H.J. Agricola, M. Elings, J.T.N.M. Thissen \2007: Current status and potential of care farms in the Netherlands. NJAS 55 (1) pp. 21-36 Oltmer, K., Venema, G.\ 2008: Business development in care farming in the Netherlands. On the right track and heading for further professionalization Roest, A., Oltmer, K., Driest, P., Jans, A. \ 2010: Thuis op de zorgboerderij : handreiking kleinschalig wonen voor ouderen met dementie Venema, G., V. Hendriks-Goossens, D. Lakner, J. Jager, E. Veen, M. Voskuilen, A. Schouten, K. de Bont, H. Schoorlemmer (2012). Kijk op de multifunctionele landbouw. Omzet en impact 2007-2011. Den Haag, LEI Wageningen UR, LEI-rapport 2012-010.