Topic: A broad idea of Green Care as a conceptual innovation
In Finland Social Farming type of services are included under the umbrella concept Green Care. Since its introduction 2006 the concept of Green Care emerged interest among a variety of stakeholders, whereas Social Farming term alone is rarely used. The term Social Farming did not resonate as largely among rural developers or promoters of farm-related new livelihoods, probably due to its’ connotations in Finnish language among other reasons. Consequently in Finland nature-based services delivered on farm environments are developed side by side those services delivered on forests, gardens or water environments − under the term Green Care.
Although nature-based services as such have been existed for very long time, apparently the very term Green Care was something, which gathered together different actors for joint development actions. Green Care concept inspired multi-professional and multi-sectoral cooperation for further development of nature-based practices and service selections. Currently the term Green Care is understood as a wide umbrella concept for the services using diversity of nature-related methods and utilizing diverse natural environments in the social, health and wellbeing services and education for varied client groups, targeting for different aims (care/ rehabilitation/ empowerment/ education).
Although the Green Care concept seemed to capture broad acceptance, it has not been without problems either. Problems have been caused by usage of foreign language as well as both the connotations of the word green and also its’ actual meaning as a color: the great importance of blue water environments of Finland and especially white (or gray) winter spaces seemed to be left out. The development of the Finnish terms (LuontoHoiva and LuontoVoima) and the quality label criterions build for them have been mitigated these problems to some extent. On the other hand the strict definitions have been caused some resentment , when some types of services have not fitted inside the build concept frame.
In this paper we argue that broad concept of Green Care is a conceptual innovation, which has boosted the social innovation of the green care activities. This suggest that the conceptual innovations may be (pre)-condition for social innovations. Furthermore, we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of various conceptualisations for the growth of nature-based service selection and for institutional arrangements. The paper is based on the results of a survey questionnaire targeted to multi-professional actors of the sector, and on the qualitative study made of the discursive spheres concerning the concept Green Care in Finland.