Thursday, November 30, 2023

Farmstrong hits fifth birthday

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Rural wellbeing initiative Farmstrong is celebrating its fifth birthday. More than 18,000 Kiwi farmers and growers have engaged in the last year alone. 
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Farmstrong helps farmers and their families cope with the ups and downs of farming by sharing things farmers can do to look after themselves and the people in their business.

It offers practical tools and resources through its website, workshops and community events, inviting farmers to find out what works for them and lock it in. Farmers using good techniques to stay mentally and physically fit and healthy are regularly featured in stories in Farmers Weekly. 

The idea is to make the science of wellbeing accessible to busy farmers so doing things to look after themselves and their teams is accepted as part of business as usual on farms. 

Farmers are encouraged to adopt the Five Ways to Wellbeing – staying connected with mates, keeping active, giving back to the community, learning and enjoying the simple things in life – which research shows make people more resilient and better able to cope with pressure when times are challenging. 

Changing people’s attitudes and behaviours is never easy but Farmstrong’s mix of farmer-to-farmer stories, workshops and online resources is making a measurable difference. 

A survey of 450 farmers and growers in 2019 found 20% or about 10,000 farmers and growers attribute an improvement in their wellbeing to involvement in Farmstrong in areas like coping better with ups and downs, improved work-life balance, contributing more to other farmers and their community and connecting more regularly with friends. The Farmstrong brand is now well-established with 61% awareness among farmers leading to 10,000 fans on Facebook and nearly 250,000 visitors to its website over the past four years – more than 1300 a week. 

Farmstrong ambassador Sam Whitelock has played a significant role in raising its profile. He recently reflected on his involvement.

“I know from having grown up on a farm that farmers are great at looking after their stock and pasture but, sometimes, not so good at looking after themselves. 

“I reckon it’s awesome hearing about the number of people Farmstrong is touching and I know there are so many more people out there we can help. 

“A lot of people have just come up to me, said ‘Farmstrong’ and given me the thumbs-up.” 

Over the last five years many farmers and growers have got in behind Farmstrong by sharing what they do and why it’s important. 

Farmers do listen to other farmers so their involvement has contributed significantly to Farmstrong’s progress. 

Southland contract milker Tangaroa Walker’s a good example. 

“It’s funny isn’t it, we do farming courses but nowhere do we learn about how to look after ourselves, how to eat properly, how to call a friend if you’re in a stressful situation. That’s why I think Farmstrong’s the best thing since sliced bacon.”

Farmstrong is a not-for-profit, community give-back founded by rural insurer FMG and the Mental Health Foundation. ACC joined as a strategic partner in 2016. Farmers Weekly is the media partner. 

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