Social Agricolture for people with mental health disabilities
COPAPS (Cooperative for Social and Productive Activities) was established in 1979 as an agricultural company with social aims: it provides training courses and employment pathways, both inside and outside the company, for people with mental disabilities, to help them integrate into the labour market. In 2002, COPAPS became a type A+B social cooperative. The organization is involved in a variety of activities related to the agricultural sector including (i. e. the cultivation of flowers and vegetables), has its own agritourism restaurant (“Il Monte”) as well as a shop (“La casa del bosco”) selling the farm produce. All the activities are run by people with mental disabilities, who are employed by the cooperative. People with mental disabilities are also involved in what are known as green laboratories (floriculture and agricultural sectors), where they are trained to become farm workers. Those who are sufficiently independent to work effectively on the farm then use the laboratory experience as a pathway to employment.