Seventeen years ago, I had a destroyed farm, a destroyed bank account and destroyed hopes. I couldn’t afford to move, so I decided to make good of what I had. That was how my journey began.
Two years ago, Bonavaree was smashed by 225km/h winds. Then weeks later, earthquakes. The epicenter of the big one was 2.5km away.
In the face of all that, today, we’re better off than ever. In 1998, Bonavaree turned over $320,000. In 2014, that’s risen to $2.2 million (the farm size has also grown). The property is a leader in environmental thinking and it has a sound social base to build into the future.
I have learned that as a farmer, you need to be sustainable across three pillars — financial, environmental and social. Around each pillar, you need to build resilience, by accessing integrated knowledge and support. It’s not about business as usual with a few concessions. It’s a whole new road.
Too often, the social pillar is ignored. Yet, in New Zealand, we are twice as likely to die from our own hand as in a motor accident. Men are three times more likely to die than women, and rural men are twice as likely again. Below the tragedy of suicide is a huge pyramid of depression. This is something we all have to work together to address.
A few years ago, I started visiting farms and communities to share my story. I soon realized there were hundreds of farmers like me, with their own journey to make. And to make that journey, they need access to integrated knowledge and support. To facilitate this, I have created 'Resilient Farmer'.
— Doug Avery