Making Farmstrong A Verb

Last year, 14,000 farmers and growers reported an increase in their wellbeing thanks to Farmstrong. This shows the benefits of focusing on daily habits when the going gets tough says Farmstrong Ambassador Sam Whitelock.

I’ve been Farmstrong’s ambassador since 2016 and what I like best about the programme is that it’s so practical. I think of Farmstrong as a verb, it’s something people can actually do to increase their wellbeing.

Our main message is one of empowerment – that as individuals and workplaces there is always something within our control that we can do to make today and tomorrow better, no matter how difficult the circumstances might be.

I’ve seen first-hand how well Farmstrong’s solutions work for rural people when they choose to adopt them. However, maintaining wellbeing doesn’t happen by accident. We need to make space for it in our busy lives.

The good news is that the research shows people who thrive in spite of life’s challenges share a few simple, daily habits – the 5 Ways to Wellbeing. This means they: stay connected with mates, enjoy the simple pleasures in life, stay active and move the body, learn new things and give back to their friends, neighbours and community.

My experience is that over time the benefits of these habits really add up. That’s hardly surprising when you look at what the science tells us:

  • people with strong social connections are happier, healthier and live longer.
  • keeping active / working up a sweat releases endorphins that boosts your mood.
  • learning new skills is good for your brain and keeps your thinking flexible and open.
  • taking time to notice and appreciate the simple things in life every day, helps us ‘declutter’ the mind and appreciate the ‘good stuff’.
  • when you give your time to others, not only do they benefit, but it makes you feel a lot happier too.

I’ve made the Five Ways part of my life because they provide balance, support and a sense of perspective when the going gets tough. Making these small, regular wellbeing ‘deposits’ means you’ll have something to draw on when you’re feeling under the pump. You could tick them all off by organising one enjoyable activity a week, like coaching kids sport or catching up with your neighbours or getting off farm to go hunting or fishing or attend a community event.

Farmstrong was set up in 2015 to be the ‘ambulance at the top of the cliff’. Since then, more than 36,000 farmers and growers have engaged with the programme. With your help I know we can reach many more farmers in the years ahead. This year many farmers have generously given their time to attend events and support the programme at community level. We plan to build and connect this network so that our tools and resources can reach an even wider audience.

Let’s encourage as many farmers and growers as possible to adopt the habits that we know help keep people well, rather than waiting until their wellbeing reaches a crisis point.

Anyone looking for inspiration about what’s possible should head to the Farmstrong website where there are a ton of free farmer-to-farmer tools and resources for managing the challenges of farming and growing. Topics include nutrition, sleep, body conditioning to keep farm fit as well as mental skills and mindsets for managing stress, pressure and workload.

There’s even a 150pp book ‘Live Well, Farm Well’ that tells the stories of 29 farmers and growers who navigated challenging times and share what they did to get through. It’s a great toolkit for anyone going through a tough time. The Farmstrong podcast interviews hosted by Rowena Duncum on The Country are also a great listen so check those out too.

The recurring theme of all these stories is that is that to get the best out of your farm or orchard, first, you need to get the best out of yourself.

Farmstrong is nationwide, rural wellbeing programme. To find out what works for you and lock it in visit

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