Educational farms: a new entrepreneurial model

The interest in the world of agriculture and livestock breeding by the younger generations has favored the development of a new model of farm: the educational farm. Essentially, this is a place created to let families and children discover the activities that are carried out in this sector. We can easily understand that presence of animals is fundamental to make educational farms attractive. However, there are many activities that can be proposed, even in the absence of animals.

Animali in una fattoria didattica

Young generations back to agricultural activities

In recent years, agriculture and breeding have regained new interest from the younger generations. According to Coldiretti (the Italian agricultural representative association), in 2020 there was a 14% increase in new agricultural businesses opened by young people under 35.

This historic return to the land is a reflection of greater attention to preserving biodiversity and the desire to create a model of sustainable agriculture. Young people have given this sector a new boost of innovation and growth. According to data collected by Coldiretti, farms led by under 35s have a 75% higher turnover than the average and 50% more employees per farm.

In addition, innovation in the agricultural sector is reflected in the creation of new business models based on social inclusion and education. Not only traditional breeding and agricultural enterprises but also educational farms, agri-nurseries, social agriculture for the inclusion of disabled people, prisoners and drug addicts. The aim is to create a positive image of agriculture and make it accessible to all.

Activities to propose in educational farms

Farmers and breeders who wish to offer this service to their customers have a wide range of activities that can be carried out. Here is a non-exhaustive list of ideas for inspiration:
 
1. Create a tour route to show the daily life of farmed animals
2. Horseback riding lessons
3. Cheese workshop in the dairy of the company
4. Beekeeping: honey production 
5. Cultivation of vegetables in the greenhouse
6. Hay storage in the barn
7. Demonstration of sheepdog skills
8. Composting workshop
9. Nutrition education
10. Food hygiene education

The fundamental characteristics of an educational farm

To ensure the success of this type of activity, it is essential to organize the environment properly and ensure the safety of visitors. Having wide open spaces where visitors can move freely and safely is essential to ensure the success of the activity.

Visitor organization is something that is considered by visitors when evaluating their experience. Therefore, it is important to provide a welcoming and guiding person.

Educator in Educational farm

Safety first

Adequate security and comfort systems must be installed in the facility for public visits such as:

  • Access ramps
  • Safety signage (no-go areas, behavior, etc.)
  • Strong fences for livestock
  • Clean paths
  • Waste collection points
  • Sanitation of premises where animals are present
  • Shelters for visitors
  • Public toilets

The contact between animal and human requires hygienic precautions to avoid the spread of diseases such as E. coli or Salmonella. For this reason, sanitation must be carried out regularly. There are several machines on the market that facilitate the spread of disinfectant products suitable for use in agro-livestock activities. In addition, it will be necessary to subject the animals to all necessary vaccinations.

Investments required

Transforming a farm into a place that can welcome visitors requires the creation of a detailed plan that complies with the regulations of the area where the activity is established. As a first step, it is necessary to inquire with local authorities about the practices to be implemented.

In general, the investment for starting this type of activity requires a minimum sum of 150 thousand euros. It varies according to the number of animals and surface area of the farm, the staff to be recruited and the activities to be proposed.

The European Union proposes plans to support agriculture, so it is possible to apply for an honor loan (i.e. the provision of grants) to open an educational farm. 

visitatori nelle fattorie didattiche

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