NZ Dairy Autumn 2022

8 | nzdairy Waving goodbye to the farm Russell Fredric DAIRY PEOPLE » Surfing for Farmers Farmers are used to working around the weather, but during the summer hundreds throughout New Zealand have a different reason for checking their smartphone MetService app. It might just be surf’s up, that its time to wave goodbye to the farm for a few hours and wrangle the ute to a weekly Surfing for Farmers event. The brainchild of rural real estate consultant Stephen Thomson, Surfing for Farmers was launched in 2018 and is held in 21 locations nationwide. National coordinator Jack Dustin says the organisation aims to promote the mental well-being of farmers through creating the opportunity to get off the farm and switch off, “It’s about creating the habit to get off the farm, so when farmers do fall on dark times they have surfing as tool in the toolbox to help them get back on track. This involves connecting with other farmers and rural people in a totally different environment, enjoying sea air, salt water, surf therapy, a barbecue and a yarn, Jack says. Farmers need no previous surfing experience. Each event is completely free of charge with wetsuits, boards, surfing coaches and the barbecue provided by Surfing for Farmers generous sponsors, Beef and Lamb NZ, Ballance, Jarden, Rabobank, Bayley Real Estate and Meridian, along with a huge number of regional sponsors Because farmers’ wives or partners are equally important, they are also most welcome and often represent half of the number surfing and socialising. Children are also welcome to attend to make it a family event, but because surfing equipment is limited priority is given to adults. The weekly events are run by a regional coordinator and while there is good nationwide coverage there are also gaps yet to be filled in some regions. A typical reaction from first-time farmers is to question why they had not done this type of thing long before. Some go further and buy their own gear. “Once they’re in the water and they realise it’s actually something they can do they eventually commit to buying their own boards and wetsuits “It’s all about connecting with other farmers and rural people in a totally different environment,” says Surfing for Farmers national coordinator Jack Dustin. and throughout summer because of the surf coaching they increase their knowledge of the waves. “They are really upskilling themselves and head down to the beach and go for a surf beyond our programme.” “A guy in Northland who had been living up there for five years and hadn’t met any friends because he had been working on the farm the entire time without creating time for himself to get off the farm and because of Surfing for Farmers, he found a few guys of his age and was then able to connect with these guys.” One young farmer who was experiencing his first drought went to surf and ended up relating to an older farmer who had experienced several droughts. The experienced farmer offered some helpful advice and reassured him that he would make it through. Stephen Thomson says he was inspired by watching the Netflix documentary Resurface in which a war veteran suffering post-traumatic stress disorder discovers a surf therapy programme that helps traumatised soldiers heal while riding the waves. “I saw the model and had an idea that we could use that as a way of getting farmers off their farm and help them and improve their lives and give them an opportunity to relax for a couple of hours,” he says. As an amateur surfer, he well understood the benefits of getting on the water. After some “arm twisting” he raised about $12,000 in three days which was enough to hire equipment, secure coaches and float the programme. “All we really needed was the farmers and on the first day 25 turned up and we just went from there.” “I’ve been blown away by the impact we’ve had in Gisborne and the impact we’ve had around the country and the longevity of it so far, so I’m pretty stoked.” “All we really needed was the farmers and on the first day 25 turned up and we just went from there.” Incalf heifer Sale - 12th May 11.00am 1221 A Camerons Line, RD5 Feilding Peter 06 323 2711 or Letitia 027 344 9023 40 IN CALF JERSEY HEIFERS • SIRES OF HEIFERS • ELLIOTTS REGENCY CASINO RIVER VALLEY VICTORIOUS • RIVER VALLEY CECE CHROME FERDON CHROME VOLVO • NORTH AMERICAN GENETICS PRODUCTION CONSISTENLY OVER 500 MILK SOLIDS PER COW 2021 South Island Jersey Champ, Allandale Tbone Brielle, her maternal sister sells in star lot; Allandale Victorious Bethany