FARMWELL: Social wellbeing of farmers

Launched in January 2021, FARMWELL has a very ambitious and innovative goal: to identify the main social challenges farmers and their communities are facing, and potential solutions or innovations to solve them that will help improve farmers’ lives.

FARMWELL is part of a thematic network and is one of the first projects to focus exclusively on promoting social innovations in different national and local contexts to improve the mental, physical and social well-being of farmers and their families.

In an increasingly globalised and technologised world, the agricultural sector faces a number of economic, social and environmental pressures and challenges. For farmers, these challenges are extremely serious. Everyday pressures and other related social consequences (such as mental health problems, depression, isolation, physical risks, stress caused by negative perceptions in society, challenges of farm succession, gender differences, weakening family ties, etc.) are present at all levels, from individual farmers to families or farming communities.

FARMWELL will investigate farmers’ social wellbeing problems and seek solutions in six partner countries: Belgium, Greece, Italy, Poland, Romania and Hungary, with a total of 15 different partners (universities, farmers’ associations).

While the rest of the partners will focus on a specific region and specific farmers’ associations, in Romania the partnership formed by the HCC and the Local Action Group Ținutul Bârsei, will have as its research and implementation area the farmers’ communities of Brasov, members of the Local Action Group.

The project uses the “solution tree” concept to define the main objectives (addressing challenges) and to identify innovative solutions (social innovations) to address the root causes of the problems.

The definition of social innovation used by FARMWELL is: “Social innovations are innovative practices that aim to improve the social, physical and mental well-being of farmers and farm families, resulting in particular in (1) improving the capacity of farmers and their family members to recognise and act on social challenges and/or (2) improving the environment and social services for farmers and farm families and/or (3) improving the links between farmers and other (local) actors in society.”

There are programmes and strategies on investment in agriculture, equipping farms and the rural environment with technologies and services. But we do not sufficiently debate the real needs of a farmer, his family or the community he belongs to. Technological innovation is important, but so is the massive migration of young people from villages, the departure of mothers from their children to work abroad, depression and mental resilience among young and old people in villages. We need to focus more on the social well-being of these people – our villages depend on it.

FARMWELL is the initiative that comes to look at these complex issues and identify potential innovative solutions. We are glad that through the FARMWELL project we have the opportunity to address these types of problems and find social innovations that can be replicated in other rural areas in Romania.