The Rural Support Trust (RST) and New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF) are joining forces to support rural communities across New Zealand.
From this month. ‘Slice of Wellbeing’ pizza-style boxes, designed and packed by Together Hurunui, are being delivered on farm across Hurunui by vets from all four North Canterbury Veterinary Clinics in Amberley, Cheviot, Culverden, and Waikari.
Instead of pepperoni and cheese, the packs contain a menu of mental health support services, local wellbeing resources, Farmstrong’s Live Well, Farm Well book of shared stories from farmers on what they do to keep well, and reminders to “Take a break with a mate”.
Hurunui District Council’s Together Hurunui facilitator Natalie Paterson acknowledges the Department of Internal Affairs for helping to fund the project.
“It was about supporting those services that are already doing a fantastic job in our rural communities, such as Rural Support Trust and Farmstrong,” says Paterson. “There’s a real need out there.”
“A local medical centre told us they were noticing increases in mental health appointments during the milk price drop and they were hearing from young farmers battling financial pressures,” she says. “We knew there were many more farmers out there who weren’t coming in.”
Paterson decided the answer was to take wellbeing to the farm, using the one person farmers see in good times and bad: their local vet.
She approached Culverden North Canterbury Veterinary Clinic with the idea of stocking the practice’s utes with the packs to pass on to farmers when the team went out rurally.
North Canterbury Vets went a step further and distributed the packs across all four clinics, as well as to their sales team and Wellbeing Committee.
Director and veterinarian Alistair Kenyon says that, as a rural practice with strong roots in the community, North Canterbury Vet Clinics welcomed the opportunity to partner with Together Hurunui.
“Slice of Wellbeing fits in well with out values and the duty of care we have within our farming and rural communities,” he says.
Hurunui Mayor Marie Black farms in the Hurunui with her husband and, as a former Plunket health worker, has an insight into the specific challenges and opportunities of living rurally.
“Any way that we can help to support our farmers with their wellbeing gets my endorsement,” Black says.
“Rural communities like Hurunui are under-resourced when it comes to mental health services,” she says. “These packs are going out on farm to where they are needed as a real, community-led, Hurunui solution.”
Farmstrong delivery specialist Krissy Cloutman says she welcomes the creative way of taking wellbeing information to the farm.
“Supporting farmers’ and growers’ wellbeing is a team effort and Farmstrong were really pleased to jump on board to support Hurunui District Council’s Slice of Wellbeing initiative,” she says.
“The pizza box packaging is a fun way to get the Farmstrong Live Well, Farm Well book and other wellbeing resources into the hands of those who need them right now,” she adds.
“It’s been an incredibly tough year for farmers and growers. Ensuring they are prioritizing their wellbeing is really important,” she says.
Noel McGirr, chair of North Canterbury Rural Support Trust and a former rural vet, says getting the word out to farmers that there are support networks who cater for their needs in harder times was very pertinent in the present challenging rural situation.
“I applaud Together Hurunui and Natalie for this worthy initiative,” McGirr says. “Rural Support is here with confidential, independent, and free assistance to any farmer finding matters a bit hard going at the moment.”