The Natural Environment White Paper “The Natural Choice: securing the value of nature” (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 2011) sets out the need to strengthen the connection between people and nature. However, the White Paper also acknowledges that the opportunities to benefit from spending time in the natural environment are currently not open to everyone, which can contribute to health and other inequalities. Natural England is committed to increasing the number and range of people who can experience and benefit from access to the natural environment, and through the Outdoors for All Programme is leading the Government’s ambition that ‘everyone should have fair access to a good quality natural environment’.
Care farms provide health, social and educational care services through supervised, structured programmes of farming-related activities for a wide range of people, including those with learning disabilities, people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), those with a drug history, people on probation, young people at risk and older people, as well as those suffering from the effects of work-related stress or ill-health or mental health issues. Care farming is a commitment within the White Paper which Natural England supports through the Higher Level Stewardship Educational Access option.