In May 2013 the group ‘Farming Mums NZ’ began. Starting from 0 members and by July 2014 hitting the 2500 mark and hitting 3800 by February 2015.
This group started with these core focuses
– Provide a supportive, non-judgemental environment for farming women to be able to chat, ask questions, share photos, find a willing ear and find mums in similar positions in their areas
– Our main focus is at the 25-35 year old age group where often mums have just given up their jobs to live rurally and raise their kids – possibly away from friends and family and trying to find their place
– Make the page friendly and available to anyone who needs it, and though with the above focus age group, the importance of those any older is huge as they at the perfect stage to give advice and talk to women new into the industry or struggling amongst it.
– We don’t discriminate and there are many in the group who are not yet mums, single mums, single farm workers etc.
With those being our initial focuses, it has grown in to much more since then. Our age group ranges from 16 to 70 from the northern most farm in NZ, to the Chatham Islands, to Gore and every tiny town in-between.
We have inadvertently stumbled upon an amount of depression and anxiety that seems to align with NZ recent depression rates amongst rural men, which is something we really need to keep in mind at all times so that we can either chat to, or help find the right people to get them in contact with. This is a daunting topic, but one we can’t ignore.
Since FMNZ began there has been so much positive feedback that it makes it all worth it. This year we have helped many families find jobs, reassure women in their decisions whether it be in parenting or farming, allow ‘Anonymous Questions’ to retain some privacy while asking the questions they desperately want answered and get groups of women together in times of need – including helping each other move house when a situation changes. In more recent time’s admin has been dealing (often behind the scenes) with family violence, depression and suicide issues and much more.
The admin team have been consulting professionals in these cases as well as follow up and are looking into courses to provide some training for us to be able to deal with similar situations correctly.
We have links and relationships within Federated Farmers, Hazard Co, Rural Women, Dairy Woman’s Network and look forward to building relationships with other companies in the future to help get the right information out to the right people.
The fact that farming women have this ongoing forum and that it is watched over to keep it as safe as environment as possible makes is a really unique place that I hope we can maintain in the long run, with constant improvements and projects on the go.