A young Kiwi, Los Angeles-based, filmmaker has made good use of the lockdown period to help farmers battling with mental health issues.
Farmstrong launched last week with a new website www.farmstrong.co.nz, social media presence, and two support programmes: the Farmstrong Fit4Farming Cycle Tour and Dr Tom Mulholland's HealthyThinking workshops.
"We know getting off the farm and putting steps in place to look after number one can often be a struggle for some farmers" says Mulholland.
"So we figured that if farmers have already made a commitment to get off the farm for Mystery Creek, why not lend a hand on the other part of the equation and provide a health check?"
As part of its site at E34 farmers will be able to:
• Learn more about Farmstrong
• Attend Healthy Thinking talks
• Receive a free 15 minute health check (limited number of kits available)
• Challenge themselves, or their friends and family to a two minute cycle race
• Pledge kms to help farmers get 'farm fit' and reach a collective goal of cycling 4 million km's.
Mulholland says that in just 15 minutes he and the team at St John can provide farmers with a general check-up of things like blood pressure and diabetes. The consultation will be private and free. "So there are really no excuses not to come and see us," he says.
As a huge Healthy Thinking advocate, Mulholland will also be providing two free talks on the topic each day.
"Healthy thinking is about putting simple strategies in place to look after the top two inches so when the ups and downs of farming arrive farmers are better placed to cope with them.
"We can't control things like dairy pay-outs and the weather for example, but what we can control is what's between our ears and how we respond. If we have the right emotional skills to manage these issues then we can improve productivity, waste less time and have more fun," he says.
As well as highlighting the importance of wellbeing, Farmstrong is also supporting physical health. At Fieldays, Farmstrong will have information about former dairy farmer turned farm management coach Ian Handcock and the rural cycle tour - Fit4Farming.
"Some farmers may not be as fit as they think they are," says Handcock. "The machines and gadgets we have available to us these days means it's easier, for example, to use a quad bike to get around the farm instead of walking. All it takes is a number of small changes such as walking (where possible) to make a big difference to our overall health and wellbeing," he says.
The cycle tour kicks off in early 2016 and in the meantime, farmers can make a commitment to get active by pledging kilometres they are prepared to walk, run or cycle to help hit the collective target of 4 million kms.
Farmstrong been built on research as well as on farmers' personal advice and experiences, the programme takes a positive and preventative approach to wellbeing. For more details visit www.farmstrong.co.nz.