Farmers riding the wellbeing wave

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Surfing for Farmers was held at Sumner Beach last week, and there are more dates to come. Photo Supplied.
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Surfing for Farmers is encouraging Mid Canterbury farmers to take to the waves.

The programme begins each year in December and runs for 15 weeks until April.

While more than 4000 farmers have taken part in the free nationwide programme since it was established in 2018, few have been from this district.

National co-ordinator Sarah Shanks said of the 30 locations nationwide, four are in Canterbury. They are Gore Bay, Sumner Beach, New Brighton Beach and Hickory Bay.

‘‘We would really like to get as many Mid Canterbury farmers as possible trying out surfing. We have tutors who can teach people, so all abilities are welcome and its a fun activity for everyone to try, making new friends in the process,’’ Shanks said.

“We have so many locations across New Zealand now, and the numbers attending usually see a minimum of 30 farmers at each event in recent times.’’

The charitable organisation’s main objective is to support the mental health of farmers by giving them an opportunity to get some much needed time out.

Shanks said this was particularly important given the pressures facing New Zealand’s rural sector in current times. Results of a recent Federated Farmers survey showed farmer confidence is at historic lows. In addition, Rural Support Trust’s nationwide statistics showed a recent spike in mental health and wellbeing cases.

Gordon Biggs, a farmer from Chertsey, has already sampled the experience at Hickory Bay and will be attending again this month. Biggs encourages all farmers to find the time to give it a go.

“It’s a hell of an experience,’’ Biggs said.

“There must be something about the salt water, it makes you very relaxed and it’s so important to get that feeling every now and then,” Biggs said.

* Pre-register at surfingforfarmers.com, or you can just turn up on the day. Upcoming lessons include Sumner, February 13 and 20, Hickory Bay, February 15 and 22.

Gordon Biggs.