Wagga Wagga, NSW
CATEGORY: COMMUNITY AND PEOPLE (ADVISER)
A farmer bootcamp is delivering more than an improvement of physical fitness in a program being rolled out across Australia.
Active Farmers is the brainchild of former agribusiness banker and now fitness trainer Ginny Stevens who wants to use physical fitness as a way of improving mental health in rural communities.
She established Active Farmers first as a private company but in 2018 switched to a not-for-profit organisation, with the clear goal of assisting with mental health issues in the bush.
Ms Stevens, who is a part of a family farming enterprise at Mangoplah, NSW, now heads up an organisation where 30 communities and 250 farming families have become involved in the Active Farmers program.
Ginny says one outcome from her work is that participants become both physically and mentally fitter. Ginny says she has no doubt that when people are stressed, they make poor decisions or sometimes cannot make decisions at all.
“We strive to help farmers to be safe at work through developing programs that focus on both the physical and mental health of the participants in the program,” she says.
She is currently working with a researcher to try to quantify the benefits of the program to both individuals and to communities, but interest in extending the program shows she has hit the mark.
While 30 communities have already signed up and are running Active Farmers programs, another 100 have expressed interest and the organisation’s board has a goal of 70 programs to be up and running by the middle of 2020.