The Farmy Army helps
by Ann van Engelen
The Student Army that helped clean up after the Christchurch earthquakes set the idea in place for other organisations to help in times of need across the country due to climate disasters.
“The Farmy Army is a direct result of the Student Army. We adapted the idea and tackle specific farm tasks when needed. Helpers from across the country join together when there are natural disasters such as the recent flooding in Southland,” says Southland Federated Farmers vice president Bernadette Hunt.
“Last week we had people help farmers clear debris from their fence lines.
The flooding has been significant here before, and I have no doubt that after similar events in the past people got together to help but now with social media, we have a wider area to draw people in. We even had a guy on holiday from America turn up to help.
“The Federated Farmers National Board cancelled a meeting in the district to help farmers instead and joined the volunteers. Clearing the fence lines of debris was needed before the farmers could start repair work. When you stood back and looked at the destruction it was totally overwhelming and often there are only two workers, often a couple with children.
“One farmer text me to say what a team took five hours to accomplish would have taken him five weeks. Some farms had 20 people turn up and others only needed two or three.
“The farmers are hugely appreciative with relief in their voices at the end of the day. The volunteers had no expectations and paid their own expenses or were sponsored. We had more than 400 people turn up and help in the past week.
“The Farmy Army is only a success if the volunteers come forward and they did. Many hands make light work and we are very thankful.”