Community is especially important in farming, as living and working in rural communities can feel isolating. Community can be defined many different ways, but in its simplest form, it is about connection. Community is about more than a group or organization. It is the feeling of belonging, being accepted, and having similar values and beliefs that have a positive effect on mental health and emotional well-being.
Connect with others in your community
Summer often brings additional activities to our rural communities, and those activities are a great way to connect with others. Think about summer softball leagues, church picnics, and local fairs. These activities allow people to gather around a shared interest and connect through a game, competition, or common cause. Getting involved can also keep you involved with these communities across other seasons, including through planning meetings and activities.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, we lost a lot of our communities and routines. As you continue to plan your summer schedule, think about connecting through social activities like card clubs, coffee gatherings, or hobby interest groups. Participating in these activities can reduce stress and feelings of isolation. They often bring joy just by being around others. It is easy to fill the time to do those activities with more work, but the benefits of being a part of local communities are undeniable, helping you be more positive and productive during work hours.
Join an online farmer support group
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection’s (DATCP) Wisconsin Farm Center offers a safe space to share farming challenges and obtain encouragement in their monthly online farmer support group. The group, open to any Wisconsin farmer or farm family member, is moderated by a licensed mental health provider with extensive experience in serving farmers and a farmer peer leader. The meetings are held virtually on Zoom so that participants can choose to turn on their camera or be anonymous by simply turning their cameras off and identifying by first name only.
“The online farmer support groups are a convenient way to connect with other farmers and a community that understands farming and all the complexities that go along with it,” said DATCP Farmer Wellness Program Coordinator Karen Endres. “Connect to the group easily with your phone or computer and spend an hour with others where you can share challenges, give encouragement, or just listen.”
The Wisconsin Farm Center’s online farmer support groups meet at 8 p.m. on the fourth Monday of every month. To register for an upcoming meeting and learn more, visit farmcenterwi.gov or register at https://bit.ly/2KI2ftd.
The Wisconsin Farm Center also offers farmers and their families additional wellness programs including counseling vouchers, tele-counseling, and a 24/7 Farmer Wellness Helpline (1-888-901-2558). For more information on these programs, contact DATCP Farmer Wellness Program Coordinator Karen Endres at firstname.lastname@example.org or (608) 982-6007.