New series of Farmstrong podcasts

Farmstrong has just released its second series of Live Well, Farm Well Podcasts, following the phenomenal success of the first series.

The five podcasts feature a range of different farmers talking to The Country’s executive producer Rowena Duncum about the personal challenges they’ve faced, how they got through and what they do to look after their wellbeing.

Rowena sat down with Farmstrong for a podcast Q and A…

Tell me about the latest podcast series.

I chatted to five amazing people about their lives, their experiences, their personal challenges and what they’ve learnt through life and through Farmstrong that not only helps them to stay Farmstrong, but could help others as well.

Tell me about the people you interviewed. They had an incredibly wide range of experiences and challenges.

Honestly, I find everyone I’ve interviewed incredibly inspiring. From Slade McDonald, who lost both his parents before finishing high school, to Abbi Ayre, who juggled parenthood, farming and being hospitalised with post-partum psychosis… and is still smiling and trying to help others at the end of it all. Listening to other people’s journeys puts a lot in perspective. We’d previously interviewed Troy Hall, who was electrocuted twice, but it was great to be able to dig deeper into his experiences during a longer-form podcast. Same thing with Junior Taulago – a former hip hop dance instructor turned, farmer, who’s been through both the Christchurch earthquakes and Cyclone Gabrielle. Then we wrapped up the series with Corrigan Sowman, who talked through what he learned as part of his Nuffield Studies, which brought it all together really nicely.

Why a second series?

Live Well, Farm Well is so unique in that the farmers are relatable – it’s literally farmers sharing their stories to try to help other farmers. The more we can get this kind of resource out the better, as you don’t know who it might resonate with and who it might help.

How does this second series compare to the first?

To my ears it’s a bit more polished because I felt like I knew what I was doing this time around!! Ha ha! The first series was my very first attempt at doing a podcast. I’m not even a big listener of podcasts, so I literally had no idea what I was doing, and we all just kinda found our way through it together. This one felt a little less daunting, which was great, and I was able to let everyone know what to expect…whereas the first time it was just like “uhhhh, let’s just see how we go!” But there’s the same feeling of vulnerability from everyone, of pride in having the strength to share their story and of desire to help others.

Why is it important for farmers/growers to share their wellbeing stories?

It’s so powerful to hear firsthand, from another farmer or grower. It’s raw, real and relatable. And it shows, not just tells, but really shows, that you can get through anything. It’s no bullshit – it’s their authentic voice. Their own experience in their own words – no corporate speak and glossing over the tough bits!

Why should farmers/growers listen to the podcasts?

It helps people to not feel alone. We hear so often that if things are not going right, you can feel like you are so, so incredibly isolated. Farming and growing can be a really remote occupation – and this is (hopefully, if I’ve done things right!) like listening to a couple of mates chatting to you. Podcasts are great because you don’t have to be connected to Wi-Fi or have cell reception to listen to them – they’re downloadable and portable – so you just take them with you, wherever you’re working that day. It’s not as taxing as reading on a small screen and you can multi-task!

Was there one particular podcast that stood out for you and why?

Troy Hall. I mean the guy was literally on fire! He was electrocuted once – which killed him. Then a second time – which brought him back to life. You don’t get much luckier than that! But then when you listen to what he went through during his recovery, you start to get a real sense for just how powerful the human body can be.

What kind of pressures are farmers facing at the moment and how can they look after their wellbeing?

Where do I start? China’s economy hasn’t recovered like everyone expected. Red meat is struggling, big time. Dairy has had a very rocky road and is not out of the woods yet. There’s a lot of political stuff to unpack after the change in Government and get an understanding on where things stand. And, in my experience, people are tired. So, it’s crucial to try and get a break over summer, where possible. Take some time to spend with friends and family and reenergise yourself. Even if it’s just the odd afternoon here and there – letting yourself have that time GUILT FREE (super important!) will really help in the long run. And if it’s just a few afternoons, plan to take longer when you can. It just means that when things get tough again, you’ve got a bit more in reserve to be able to deal with it. And it’s important, if you’ve got children, that they see you being able to balance work and family and time off as well – sets them up well for the future too.

 It must be a real honour and privilege to interview farmers and growers and hear their stories.

It honestly is. They’re inviting me into their lives and opening themselves up for a wonderful cause. But it can be intense at times – these are powerful stories, and they really tug at the heartstrings at times. I often just want to hug someone through the phone when we’re done. I’m just so proud of them for being part of this.

Sign up for the Farmstrong newsletter