Topkærgaard - agriculture with social jobs
SOCIALLY BENEFICIAL AGRICULTURE’S (SBA) INVOLVEMENT IN TOPKÆRGAARD
Topkærgaard is a case in Socially Beneficial Agriculture due to the social jobs and the collaboration in this regard with the mu-nicipality. Working together, Organic Denmark and Kim Qvist made a plan for how the agriculture and the social jobs should be established. SBA financed the preparation of a business plan for Topkærgaard and for a lawyer to assist Kim Qvist with both the social and financial agreements that he needs in order to run Topkærgaard the way he wants.
With respect to farm’s ability to offer social jobs, SBA contribut-ed in this case by shedding light on the economic consequences to the citizen, agriculture, the municipality and society.
SBA also contributed with the commencement of the conversion to organic agriculture and participated in meetings the municipality, among others, concerning the preparation of a nature plan for the area around Topkærgaard, as Aarhus Municipality obtains part of its drinking water from there.
Topkærgaard is registered as a sole proprietorship under Kim Qvist. Topkærgaard leases land and agricultural buildings from the family and from external investor Tofthøj Agro.
The buildings and 8 ha land are owned by the families Qvist and Quist Duus, by 50 percent each. A joint ownership agreement is in place.
Topkærgaard – Økologisk produktion IVS (the entrepreneurial company Topkærgaard – Organic Production) is registered as a Social Økonomisk Virksomhed (Social Business) (SØV).
- An agreement has been entered into with Tofthøj Agro ApS concerning the remaining 36 ha. Among other things, it describes the consequences for Kim Qvist if the land is sold.
- An agreement has been entered into with House Venture concerning a rehabilitation programme and job capacity assessment for citizens mainly in Aarhus Municipality.
- An agreement is in place with an organic wholesaler on trade and storage facilities at Topkærgaard.
A jigsaw of cooperation agreements forms the financial basis that allowed Kim Qvist to establish the company Topkærgaardand that it has access to land, is able to establish different areas of operation and that it can offer social jobs.
For offering social jobs, Kim Qvist receives a mentor subsidy per citizen undergoing a job capacity assessment. The citizens who are deemed suitable for flexible jobs and a social workplace will receive better wages, a clarified situation and a line of work which often leads to a more meaningful and independent life. Topkærgaard receives workers for many of the manual tasks involved in agriculture in exchange for paying wages for an agreed number of hours. The rest of the wages are paid by the municipality.
The municipality pays more for a flexible job than for cash benefits, but there are savings with respect to follow-up and contact, which are part of receiving cash benefits. Society may reap certain benefits from social jobs. There are no studies that investigate the economy in this regard, but it would involve increased tax revenue, reduced medicine consumption and the elimination of rent subsidies and other public benefits.
EXPERIENCE AND LEARNING
Establishing contact with job centres can be a long and difficult road. When you manage to do so, you have to tell your story and explain what you want. Agreements must be made concerning which citizens and which activities are involved. Work functions must be identified and described. It must be established whether a mentor fee or other compensation is paid. Contact and dialogues must be established with relevant caseworkers, and finally the citizens must be referred to the offer. Along the way, certain details must be clarified, including transport, number of hours, lunch arrangement and changing facilities.
Despite a great willingness from Topkærgaard to accept citizens and despite persistence, a good network and positive reactions from the parties involved, it took nearly a year to establish the first jobs.
• Topkærgaard, which is owned by Kim Qvist and his family, is located near Aarhus.
• 46 ha land – owned and leased – are cultivated with wheat, fruit, vegetables and berries.
• Planned animal husbandry: chickens, broilers, sheep and pigs.
• A small poultry keeping has been set up in a mobile hen coop.
• A farm shop was set up with a large assortment of organic products.
• In cooperation with Aarhus Municipality and external partners, Topkærgaard offers work for citizens with special needs. The target group is war veterans suffering from trauma.
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