A group of Hawke’s Bay farmers have found the perfect way to ensure they get off the farm, improve their fitness and have a good time socially.
Farmers Rob Buddo, Allen Kittow, Gerry Steenkamer and hobby farmer David Sutherland belong to the Hawke’s Bay Rowing Club and have all noticed an improvement in their physical and mental health since picking up the oars.
The farmers were also part of a larger group from the rowing club who took part in the World Masters Games in April. Farmstrong provided sponsorship for the farmers.
Rob Buddo is a sheep and beef farmer and Chairman of Atkins Ranch. He got into rowing about seven years ago after watching his children take part.
“When our kids finished rowing there were a few of us parents who thought it would be fun to give it a go so we did,” Rob says.
Rob has come a long way since then. He won a silver medal at the World Masters Games in his mixed double scull race.
Rowing helps clear the mind
The 56-year-old says rowing has been beneficial to his physical and mental wellbeing.
“As a farmer I have a bit going on in my life and rowing is a real release. Rowing forces you to focus mentally because it’s quite technical… it really helps you clear your mind.”
Rob says he feels energised afterwards and has seen a huge improvement in his fitness, which helps with his farming.
He says it’s also great to socialise with other people who aren’t farmers.
“There are a few farmers in the rowing club but also people from other walks of life too. It’s healthy to not talk about farming all the time and to talk about other things. It’s really important to make sure you keep things in perspective.”
Training on the Clive River in the lead up to the World Masters was intense.
“Our coach Chris Morgan was the glue that held us together and made it happen… there was such a great sense of achievement to have competed at that level. It was great.”
Rob says it’s important to get off the farm and take a break and rowing provides that opportunity.
“When you’re a farmer, you’re in your workplace all the time and there’s always something that needs doing and that plays on your mind.
“That’s why it’s absolutely imperative to get off the farm. It doesn’t have to be rowing, it could be cycling or rugby or anything.”
Social interaction key
Fellow rower and vegetable farmer Allen Kittow (58) says his fitness and strength has improved greatly since he started rowing.
“Rowing is quite a peaceful form of relaxation and it’s flexible because if there’s nobody around you can row on your own… it’s great to know you can get away for a couple of hours and have something else to think about, which is great mentally.”
Allen says the group appreciated the support from Farmstrong.
“There are a lot of challenges as a farmer and Farmstrong are doing a great job supporting farmers.”
Allen came a respectable sixth in the final of the quadruple scull at the World Masters.
Sheep and cattle farmer Gerry Steenkamer is the only one of the group who rowed as a youngster.
He got back into rowing about three years ago after chatting to Rob at a party. He made it into the World Masters’ single scull semi-finals.
“It was great to be out there competing with people from overseas and there was great camaraderie.”
He says as a farmer he doesn’t have a lot of contact with people.
“I’m on my own a lot of the time so rowing has been great for mixing with people from all walks of life.”
Physical benefits from rowing
The 58-year-old says it’s crucial to have a break from farming.
“It’s good to take your head away from farming and I’ve seen a huge improvement with weight loss and I feel stronger,” he says.
“It’s easy to get bogged down mentally so it’s helpful to have something different to think about… my son even commented that he noticed I’m thinking more clearly these days.”
And it’s not just farmers noticing the benefits. Policeman and hobby farmer David Sutherland loves the physical and mental benefits of rowing.
He’s been rowing for about five years and made it to the semi-finals of the double sculls at the World Masters.
“I’m desk-bound in my job so the exercise is great and it’s important to have another interest away from my job, it’s a good distraction,” the 56-year-old says.
There’s also another benefit for David.
“I get free farming advice from Rob, Allen and Gerry. As a hobby farmer, those guys are wonderful for advice and guidance.”