The remarkable Farmers Community Connect (FCC) event, which took place in Gisborne on Friday, September 1st, 2023, was marked by the virtues of gratitude, generosity, and gratefulness.
Building on the resounding success of the FCC day in Hawkes Bay a few weeks earlier, the Rapid Relief Team (RRT) felt compelled to extend their support to farmers in the Gisborne region. The Farmers Community Connect event aimed to create a positive and enjoyable experience for farmers, enabling them to connect with their local community, savor a meal, and avail themselves of the assistance provided by local service providers. The support was specifically offered to farmers who had suffered the devastating effects of cyclone Gabrielle earlier in the year.
Such natural disasters necessitate months, and in some cases even years, of painstaking repairs, rebuilding, and restocking, placing tremendous physical, mental, and financial burdens on families. Several months have passed since the calamity, and many farmers find themselves on the verge of burnout, toiling ceaselessly and enduring long hours to revitalize their businesses.
The primary objective of the event was to furnish farmers with complimentary bundles of wood fencing and supplies, enabling them to get back on their feet. Furthermore, various support services from the area were invited to the event to engage with farmers, offering them free advice, resources, and, in some cases, uplifting words of encouragement.
The gates of the event swung open at 7 am, and over 300 farmers and their families flocked to the venue located at 210 Dunstan Road. We extend our heartfelt appreciation to the gracious owners of Aratu Forrests’ yard for providing the land and property for this event.
The day unfolded seamlessly! Crystal-clear blue skies and brilliant sunshine added to the ambiance. Utes, trucks, and trailers traversed the yard, and our dedicated team of over 50 volunteers stood ready to serve at every step.
We are absolutely thrilled by the kind words shared by one of the attendees, who said, “Arriving with our trailer and registration number among 300 or so other farmers, we were uncertain about what to expect. However, we were greeted by enthusiastic, cheerful volunteers and a level of organization that truly astounded us. The scale of the event far surpassed our expectations.”
From registration and vehicle guidance to loading supplies, the attendees received a treat in store—a heartwarming meal, refreshing drinks, and a welcoming space where they could relax and interact with fellow farmers. One person shared their experience, stating, “After our supplies were loaded, we were directed to the hospitality tent, where we were warmly welcomed with barista coffees, donuts, burgers, and much more. The catering was exceptional. Being able to connect and converse with others facing similar challenges was almost a relief, knowing that we were not alone. We left with a sense of respect and care.”
We made sure to include the little ones – the potential future farmers! RRT distributed 90 adorable cuddly kookaburra soft toys, which always elicit smiles and high-fives from their recipients. These children have also endured challenging times in recent months, with their parents working extraordinarily hard and long hours.
For RRT volunteers, participating in this event was a priority for many. Emerging from a small community, the impact of the disaster has reverberated throughout neighboring businesses and individuals. The highlight for our dedicated volunteers was witnessing the responses of the attendees, who expressed their gratitude for the event. One farmer remarked, “It was an opportunity to catch up with fellow farmers. This act of kindness has helped restore our spirits and given us the strength to persevere.”
As we draw the event to a close, our thoughts turn to the farmers and their families. Witnessing their smiles and hearing their kind words as they departed the venue provided an invigorating experience for our volunteers. We sincerely hope that the day provided them with the much-needed boost and facilitated connections to essential services and resources, empowering them to forge ahead.
"A massive thank you to the sponsors who contributed to the day. It is absolutely devastating to witness and hear firsthand experiences from local famers who attended the day. My heartfelt condolences go out to each and every one of you and wish you all the best and you work hard and continue along the recovery path. Stay strong! "
Danny Blampied - RRT Director
We must extend a massive shout-out to the multitude of RRT donors and volunteers who contributed to making this day a resounding success. Without your support, we would not have been able to create such a welcoming and tranquil environment, offering hope and support to our local farmers. THANK YOU!