When I left my parents family farm to study at university, I didn’t fully appreciate how closely my future career would revolve around farming and agriculture. From delivering stewardship advice at Natural England, to farm consultancy at ADAS and now launching Fern Farming, the one thing all my roles have had in common is the desire to help farming businesses in Yorkshire develop and become more resilient to change. I have been privileged to visit many farms giving me a fantastic insight into the breadth and depth of businesses we have in our region. I’m now very excited start working with the Future Farmers of Yorkshire as we launch our ‘Fit to Farm’ initiative.
As the days shorten into winter, we’ll be spending four weeks taking an in-depth look into what it means to be ‘Fit to Farm’ through talks and social media to highlight positive stories and best practice around four topics. These will include being physically fit and thinking about responsibilities as an employer, to mental health and farm safety. Things will be kicked off with a talk titled “Shift Happens!” from New Zealand author of The Resilient Farmer: Doug Avery.
Week one will focus on physical fitness. Being physically fit makes most farm jobs easier. Anyone who has had issues with their ability to move, will understand how debilitating and mentally draining it can be. On the flip side, those who have blue days, especially during the winter, will know how doing physical exercise can positively improve mood. We’d love to hear from farmers about how they stay physically fit and share tips that we can weave into our everyday lives.
During week two, we’ll move onto safeguarding your employees and clients. It makes good business sense to look after your employees and we’ll be seeking to highlight companies that are taking steps to do this well.
In week three we’ll be tackling Farm Safety. According to statistics, farms are the most dangerous place to work. But making your farm a safer place to work needn’t be difficult or involve outside experts. We’ll be talking to everyday farmers about the simple measures they are using to monitor hazards and improve safety on farm.
In week four we’ll be focussing on Mental Health. Outwardly, most of us would attest to the fact that farming is a fabulous job. However, poor mental health is emerging as one of the most important challenges in the farming industry. Too often people are afraid to admit that they are struggling with their mental health. We’ll help you to think about your own mental health, how to look after it, and how to help others do the same.
The climax of our month will be the Future Farmers Autumn meeting, on 20th November, titled “Fit to Farm: Bullet-Proofing you and your business”. Keep your eye on the Future Farmers of Yorkshire social media and email updates for more information. If you are not a member, visit the website to easily join.
We are excited about this initiative and, in order to make it as successful as possible, we are keen to hear from those of you who might like to get involved, by sharing yours skills, experience or passion for any of these topics. Do get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Helen Wyman