Researchers in the project

Katarina Pettersson, Assistant Professor in Cultural Geography (Project Leader)

Malin Tillmar, Professor in Entrepreneurship

An interesting phenomenon at the intersection of a changed welfare state and women's entrepreneurship on farms is "green care".

The Swedish welfare state has increasingly privatized public welfare services, coinciding with shifts in the rural economy towards services and experiences rather than goods production, while agriculture has declined sharply. The gendered nature of the organization of work is an integral part of this transformation and several studies have shown that women can be the "new entrepreneurs" of farms, enabling farms to survive. An interesting phenomenon at the intersection of a changing welfare state and women's entrepreneurship on farms is "green care", which involves the use of animals, plants, gardens, forests, and landscapes on farms to promote mental and physical health as well as quality of life, for various clients.

While research indicates positive health impacts of green care, there's a lack of understanding in organizing these activities effectively. Questions persist about target recipients, funding sources, activity providers, and optimal conditions. To address this, we examined 12 green care activities in Sweden, interviewing 8 men and 11 women involved. Results reveal a heartfelt commitment to green care, aiming to improve participants' health and quality of life using animals and nature. Many offer publicly funded daily activities for adults with disabilities, operating in a public market governed by various authorities. Different municipalities and businesses adopt diverse organizational approaches to offer green care.

A common challenge for all involved is securing contracts with municipalities or organizations willing to pay adequately for their services. Achieving sufficient compensation to cover costs and ensuring long-term contracts for planning and development is challenging. Few interviewees are satisfied with financial compensation, with some operations being non-profit or receiving minimal remuneration.

For farmers, preserving the farm, family legacy, and a thriving countryside are crucial motivations We find strong elements of rural entrepreneurship that create social values for the countryside in addition to economic values. We see that green care develops people, the countryside and to some extent also animals and nature, including through a "connecting agriculture" that creates relationships between people and between people and animals.

Regarding gender, green care both reproduces traditional gender roles and introduces some changes. Men often engage in outdoor work with machinery and large animals, while women handle cooking and smaller animals. Yet, instances of men redefining their identity from farmer to "caregiver" are observed.

This project received funding from Forte.



Pettersson, K., & Tillmar, M. (2022). Working from the heart–cultivating feminist care ethics through care farming in Sweden. Gender, Place & Culture, 29(10), 1446-1466.

Theses, books and reports

Pettersson, K., & Tillmar, M. (2019). Att jobba med hjärtat. SLU Framtidens djur, natur och hälsas rapportserie, rapport, (3).