PR - MANAGING TO INTEGRATE AGRICULTURE AND HEALTH
Agriculture and health have operated too often and for too long in separate silos. Both agriculture and health have public dimensions that should be pursued in ethical, evidence-based and valuesbased ways for integral achievement of moral, scientific and socio-cultural outcomes. On long-term ethical grounds, this Paper proposes that health should be the thread underpinning agricultural systems from soil to plate and covering all other outcomes of agricultural practice, including public health and the health and well-being of farmers and farm managers. Growing world population and urbanisation are divorcing successive generations from direct awareness of their ultimate dependence on agricultural systems at the heart of ecosystem security, which integrates food, water, energy, livelihood and geopolitical security. National Parks and charities caring for tracts of countryside and farms – such as the National Trust in Britain – are re-emphasising the values of regular exposure to open spaces and countryside for physical, mental and spiritual refreshment. Bhutan measures ‘Gross Domestic Happiness’! An overview is offered of the preventative and public health benefits of this linkage in its various forms, and the Paper explores the diverse ways in which farm businesses can tap into additional income streams related directly to this theme while simultaneously serving the public interest in a coherent way. These opportunities enable many categories of people to engage directly with farms and farming via various means including:- Farm Shops for locavores; Open Farm visits; Agroecotourism; Therapeutic charitable work among the stressed, distressed, disabled, recovering delinquent and former addict groups. The Paper concludes by considering benefits to farmers and farming of such work and recommends an integrated approach for policymakers and local communities.
Keywords: agriculture; health; integration; therapeutic management; values-based; communities