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Inclusie van mensen met een beperking



Rehabilitation on a farm


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Supported by

LEADER Provincie Antwerpen
Met steun van ELFPO

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Within this project, a new rehabilitation concept is being developed. The concept of “Recovery Farms” means that people rehabilitate and recover within an agricultural context. So we are building a bridge here between the healthcare sector and the agricultural sector. This means that rehabilitators do their occupational therapy activities not only in a rehabilitation center, but also in an agricultural company. This can be done during or after their normal rehabilitation process and is done on the basis of personally coordinated daily agricultural actions in the yard, such as feeding animals, sweeping the stables, emptying and filling the feeding troughs, etc.


Within this project, the intention is that the three parties involved can enjoy the benefits of this new rehabilitation concept.


The patients recover and strengthen their capabilities in a different environment. A challenging environment that is a good intermediate step between the safe spaces in the rehabilitation center and real life. They also come into contact with new people and thus expand their social network. This way of rehabilitation makes it easier to take part in daily life again and promotes their inclusion in society, which can even lead to a possible step into the professional field.

Rehabilitation centers

Rehabilitation centers can offer rehabilitators an additional option: individual, additional and small-scale rehabilitation in the open air. In this way, the convalescents can gradually flow out. This additional option also relieves the burden on rehabilitation centers and gives them more time for new rehabilitation patients.


Farmers are given a new role in the healthcare sector, which also puts the farms in a new light.


A rehabilitation program outside the walls of a rehabilitation center is of great importance for rehabilitation patients.

In the rehabilitation center, they are constantly reminded of their limitations. On the farm, they feel like they are just working. There, the emphasis is more on their abilities and pushing their limits. They forget that they are in the process of rehabilitation. Moreover, they feel useful and know that they are counted on. This gives them extra motivation and a sense of purpose to rehabilitate.

They also become more independent through the tasks on the farm. The farmer is always nearby, but it is different from the guidance in the centers. The challenges of real life are faced on the farm. While mats are laid in rehabilitation centers to practice walking on uneven surfaces, rehabilitation patients encounter real obstacles on the farm: a step, a raised platform, dirt and straw in the stables, sheep that can push
 They learn to deal with this and realize that they have more potential than they may think. They realize what they are capable of and take that with them into their daily lives.

Our role

In the ‘Herstelboerderijen’ project, Mobilab & Care takes the lead in developing the concept, starting and coordinating the pilot project at two pilot farms, evaluating the pilot project, and formulating policy recommendations.

The two recovery farms together received eleven rehabilitation patients and guided them for a total of 70 sessions.

During the sessions, interviews and questionnaires were conducted with the rehabilitation patients and farmers. In this way, the effects, needs, and experiences were mapped out, and necessary adjustments to the concept were considered.

As the end of the project approached, all knowledge was collected in a playbook. Here you can find all detailed information. Two short information booklets were also written, namely: “Why participate as a farmer?” and “Why participate as a rehabilitation center?”

Finally, policy recommendations were worked on throughout the entire project to provide the ‘Herstelboerderijen’ concept with a legal framework.


An application was submitted to expand the project, but with the following adjustments: expanding the concept to oncology rehabilitation patients, allowing them to help not only in agriculture, but also in horticulture and seeing what it would be like to involve volunteers in the guidance of the convalescents. That proposal was approved. The process will start in January 2021. During the entire project, we also worked on policy recommendations to embed the concept of 'Recovery Farms' in a legal framework.

The ultimate goal is to roll out recovery farms throughout Flanders.

Why should farmers or rehabilitation centers participate?

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Also see project 'Herstelboerderijen 2.0' 

Herstelboerderijen 2.0

Supported by

combinatielogo leader



Tessa Delien

Onderzoeker en ergotherapeut die streeft naar inclusie en participatie van personen met een beperking. Iedereen heeft het recht om ten volle deel te nemen aan onze maatschappij.


Lieven De Maesschalck

Innovatiemanager voor het team, gedreven door de eindgebruiker met als doel om impact te creëren op het raakvlak van technologie en welzijn.


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