Hurunui farmers enjoy ‘slice of wellbeing’ delivered on farm
While takeout deliveries may not reach the farm, remote households in Hurunui now have access to an innovative wellbeing delivery service that provides mental-health support to their doorsteps.
Rural isolation brings many challenges. For Hurunui District Council’s Together Hurunui facilitator Natalie Paterson, connecting farmers to wellbeing support services has been one of the biggest.
From this month, ‘Slice of Wellbeing’ pizza-style boxes, designed and packed by Together Hurunui, are being delivered on farm across Hurunui by vets from all four North Canterbury Veterinary Clinics in Amberley, Cheviot, Culverden and Waikari.
Instead of pepperoni and extra cheese, the packs contain a menu of mental-health support services, local wellbeing resources, Farmstrong’s new Live Well, Farm Well book of shared stories from farmers on what they do to keep well, and reminders to “Take a break with a mate”.
Paterson acknowledged the Department of Internal Affairs for helping to fund the project. “It was about supporting those services that are already doing a fantastic job in our rural communities, such as Rural Support Trust and Farmstrong. There’s a real need out there. A local medical centre told us they were noticing increases in mental-health appointments during the milk-price drop and they were hearing from young farmers battling financial pressures. We knew there were many more farmers out there who weren’t coming in,” Paterson said.
Paterson decided the answer was to take wellbeing to the farm, using the one person farmers see in good times and bad: their local vet.
Paterson approached Culverden North Canterbury Veterinary Clinic with the idea of stocking the practice’s utes with the packs to pass on to farmers when the team went out rurally.
North Canterbury Vets went a step further and distributed the packs across all four clinics, as well as their sales team and Wellbeing Committee.
Director and veterinarian Alistair Kenyon said, as a rural practice with strong roots in the community, North Canterbury Vet Clinics welcomed the opportunity to partner with Together Hurunui. "Slice of Wellbeing fits in well with our values and the duty of care we have within our farming and rural communities."
Hurunui Mayor Marie Black farms in the Hurunui with her husband and, as a former Plunket health worker, has an insight into the challenges and opportunities of living rurally. “Any way that we can help to support our farmers with their wellbeing gets my endorsement. Rural communities like Hurunui are under-resourced when it comes to mental-health services. These packs are going out on farm to where they are needed as a real community-led, Hurunui solution.”
Farmstrong Delivery Specialist Krissy Cloutman welcomed the creative way of taking wellbeing information to the farm. “Supporting farmers’ and growers’ wellbeing is a team effort and Farmstrong were really pleased to jump on board to support Hurunui District Council’s Slice of Wellbeing initiative. The pizza box packaging is a fun way to get the Farmstrong Live Well, Farm Well book and other wellbeing resources into the hands of those who need them right now. It’s been an incredibly tough year for farmers and growers. Ensuring they are prioritising their wellbeing is really important.
“Over 14,000 people reported in 2023 that they credit improvements in their wellbeing to Farmstrong’s help and advice. Farmstrong takes a practical approach, showing people simple daily wellbeing habits and ways of thinking that farmers and growers say help them deal with life’s ups and downs.”
Noel McGirr, Chair of North Canterbury Rural Support Trust and a former rural vet himself, said getting the word out to farmers that there are support networks who cater for their needs in harder times was very pertinent in the present challenging rural situation. “I applaud Together Hurunui and Natalie for this worthy initiative. Rural Support is here with confidential, independent, and free assistance to any farmer finding matters a bit hard going at the moment.”
Paterson said 35 Slice of Wellbeing boxes are packed and loaded into the utes ready to go out. For a Meatlovers’ or Ultimate Vege delivery, however, you still have to leave the farm.