Farmers are discovering surfing is exceptionally beneficial for their mental health

Farmers discover surfing

by Ann van Engelen

Farmers from across the region are learning the art of surfing as part of the Surfing for Farmers mental health initiative across the country.

“It is about showing farmers of all age groups, a new environment as a way to relax. Many have never surfed before, and after their first lesson are finding the weekly getaway amazing,” says coordinator Sandra Taylor.

“They are making new friends, and get to have a good laugh. The initiative was started by farm consultant and surfer Stephen Thomson, and it is really successful. He saw a documentary on how the American Armed Forces Post Traumatic Stress sufferers were introduced to the sport, and it totally changed their lives.

“We had 15 farmers join us on our first day, and they all absolutely loved it.

They came out with huge grins on their faces and returned the following week. It is a busy time of year but some drive for two hours to get here.

They are out on the water for two hours, and they all stood up on their first lesson. It is amazing to see the happiness on their faces and watching them out on the waves chatting. One guy brought his nine-year-old daughter, and they had a great time together. We have two fantastic tutors from the Sumner Surf School. Within four minutes on the water there were three new surfers catching a wave. We meet weekly at Sumner Beach on Tuesdays at 5.45pm during summer. All farmers are welcome, no experience necessary as full instructions and gear is provided.

“We are grateful for the support from Rabobank, North Canterbury Rural Support Trust and Anzco who provide the meat for the barbecue. More sponsors would be very much appreciated to help support our farmers and give them a break off-farm.”

If you would like to sponsor the initiative or are a farmer who would like to join email sandra.taylornz@gmail.com.