Rural Aid Farm Army helps Trundle and learns a thing or two about rural life

When Rural Aid Farm Army project coordinators Lee and Rosie Bartlett and their band of volunteers were in Trundle, they were receiving thank yous from people in the community they weren't directly helping.

But it's what Lee described as the ripple effect.

From painting to plumbing, gardening to farm maintenance, whatever needed doing - the Farm Army did it.

They repaired fences on farms and at St Patrick's Primary School and Trundle Central School, as well as doing some gardening.

They did landscaping at Berryman Oval and took on miscellaneous jobs around the Trundle Showground, including extending undercover shelter.

While some volunteers helped to install two kilometres of irrigation on one farm, to connect water to the home, others helped to tear down an old, leaking concrete water tank on another property and replaced it with a new tank.

There was also a mechanic who was helping to get old tractors on farms going again.

"Their response has been very welcoming, warm and gracious," Lee said on Wednesday of the farmers and community groups they were helping.

Rosie added that it was very special when they had people who weren't affiliated with these groups, thanking them for being here.

Foresythes Recruitment, who sponsored the Farm Army's visit, brought 36 employees to Trundle, most them young people.

Every year the company holds a business conference, with Foresythes this year deciding to coincide it with their trip to Trundle and calling it the Paper Cuts for Blisters conference.

The Bartletts, who originally come from Old Bar in NSW, were in Trundle for a month before the Farm Army arrived.

Their job is to scout areas that need a little help and to have everything set up and arranged in time for when the Farm Army arrives in town.

They met with committees, school principals, local businesses and farmers.

"Basically we let them know that we're coming to Trundle, we've got the time and ask 'can we give you a hand with anything while we're here'?" Lee said.

"They help us too - it definitely works both ways.

"They help us to connect with the bush and our country cousins, and they give us a better understanding of life in rural areas.

"It's like a refresher course on old fashion values," he laughed.

The week-long initiative involved the entire community in every way, with even the local lady who drives the school bus stopping in at the Trundle Showground kitchen to help make sandwiches for the volunteers to take with them for lunch, a great example.

"That's amazing," Rosie said of the generous act.

The two schools also cooked dinner for the army, while another night volunteers dined out to help boost local business. They also purchased their products and supplies needed for the week locally.

On top of the hands-on projects, Rural Aid handed out $45,000, in the form of visa cards called Country Cards, to Parkes Shire farmers who had registered with the charity.

Farm Army program manager Julia Hahn said they gave $500 Country Cards to 90 farmers.

The money that funds the Country Cards was raised from their Adopt a Farmer campaign.

"If they don't get them on this run, they get them in the post," Julia said.

"That's just one of the initiatives we have.

"When you spend $1, it gets re-spent three to five times before it ends up leaving the town.

"It helps to regenerate the local economy and helps to keep the money in town a little bit longer."


Robyn Wells from Trundle collected her Country Card on Wednesday.

She said it was amazing to have the Farm Army in town and grateful they were handing out money to farmers who really needed it.

"It's just a surprise they're able to donate so much and that they're able to do all of this," she said.

"It's a lovely surprise actually.

"They pumped water into our tanks. It's expensive to buy water - we spend about $600 on one load and it doesn't fill our two tanks."

Volunteers Katie Stock from Meningie and Marshal Jacobs from Echuca left their own farms to help in Trundle, saying they wanted to support those who may be worse off than they were.

"I had the Farm Army do a Farm Rescue on my dairy farm and I wanted to give something back," Marshal said.