Dairy farmer Wayne Langford is encouraging farmers to open their gates to their communities.
The Federated Farmers Dairy Industry Group vice-president gave a talk at an event hosted by the Great Dipton Catchment Group at the Dipton Golf Club last week.
The event focused on the environmental farming practices he used, which included involving the community.
“We can’t expect our communities to trust us unless we can trust them as well, which comes with letting the community on to the farm so they can see and be involved.”
People who got to see what was happening on farms would have a far better understanding of the work done there, he said.
Some of the examples of community members helping on his farm included an environmental group which organised a planting day, did visual soil assessments and full farm assessments –
“some of these things farmers don’t get the chance to do, so it’s been a pretty positive experience”.
Mr Langford also spoke about his charitable organisation Meat the Need which requested donations of animal meat from the farming community.
The donated meat was then made into mince and given to city missions and food banks.
“It just ties the link of inviting your community in and playing our part as farmers within that community.
“In my mind, as farmers we grow food and we can’t sleep at night until our community is fed.”
In total, the organisation had given out more than 600,000 meals, contributed by farmers throughout New Zealand.
“It’s just incredible and a large amount of them have come from Southland- you know the farmers down there definitely have big hearts, for sure.”
As a mental health social media influencer with his YOLO (You only live once) farming blog, he addressed the wellbeing of farmers.
It was an important topic to him as he had experienced his own struggles with mental health three to four years ago, he said.
“I have a rural message around living life.
“I document it on social media and now we are up to day 1650, so we are way along the track.”
He had more than 27,000 followers.
He encouraged farmers to find things to be grateful for in their day-to-day lives.
The main themes he wanted to portray to supporters were gratitude, connection, learning, doing and being proud of being farmers, he said.
“Farmers are short-staffed all across the Southland region, so it is not the easiest thing to do but even just focusing on the smaller things and having gratitude for the things we do have is important.”
Thriving Southland catchment co-ordinator Sarah Thorne said it was a good night.
There were about 45 people who attended the event.
“It was brilliant and buzzing; we had a fantastic presentation from Wayne about wellbeing and what they [Mr Langford and wife Tyler Langford] had done on their farm.
“They are a lovely couple Tyler and Wayne and are very humble with positive mindsets.”