Rural Aid Farm Army creates a 'buzz' in Trundle

RECIPIENT: Bogan Gate farmer Ludek Wolf collected his $500 Country Card from Rural Aid Farm Army program manager Julia Hahn, from Brisbane. Photos: Christine Little.
RECIPIENT: Bogan Gate farmer Ludek Wolf collected his $500 Country Card from Rural Aid Farm Army program manager Julia Hahn, from Brisbane. Photos: Christine Little.

"I could cry" was one Trundle farmer's emotional sentiment to having the Rural Aid Farm Army on his property lending a helping hand last week.

"If they weren't here I'd be crawling," he said.

"We are not running, but at least we are walking."

One of the volunteers on the farm, Marshal Jacobs from Echuca, said Rural Aid performed a farm rescue on his place a few years ago so he just wants to give back.

This is his third time "giving back".

Farm Army program manager Julia Hahn said a rescue takes a lot of planning.

"We come in a month out and ask 'what can we do for you?'," she said.

"Here we are, we have 70 volunteers for a week, everyone is raring to go, to push their sleeves up and do some hard yakka.

"They are very shy to start with about putting their jobs down, but by the time that month has come around and we are nearly here there is a real buzz in town.

"Before we even touch down there has been a lot of money spent already. We buy as much as we can from businesses in town, we don't bring anything with us.

"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."

Julia said being involved with Rural Aid, the Farm Army and a Farm Rescue is a life changing experience for everyone.

"This trip we've had a combination of our grey nomads and corporate volunteers," she said.

"A lot of the Farmy Army are grey nomads, the average age is about 65 or 66.

"And with the Forsythe corporates we've had in, I made a joke that they have now put our average age at about 19! It was nice to have some young blood.

"These people have been so affected emotionally and have connected with the farmers and the people in the town, they want to come back."

Julia said the Farm Rescue program is growing very quickly.

"So much so, next year we are looking at duplicating our two coordinators on the ground," she said.

"We are looking at putting together a four or five year plan with companies to have them come back - sort of like adopt the town and come back each year to reconnect."

Julia said Rural Aid has a lot of volunteers from all over Australia wanting to help.

"One of our ladies who is with us at the moment drove from the Sunshine Coast, just her and her dog," Julia said.

"She lost her husband and her mum and her dad in a very short period of time. She said to me 'I don't know what I would have done if I hadn't found Farm Army'."

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