Jul 26, 2022
Welcome to the first in a short summer series of episodes dedicated to farmer well-being. This is my 14th season flower farming and running a small business centered around such a stunning and stressful product. Every season brings its own set of challenges, most entirely out of my control. This year I broke a bone and strained a tendon in my left foot in late February that has impacted my physical and mental health immensely. I entered the intensity of spring planting season feeling hugely ineffective and burnt out. I’m used to those feelings in August each year, but never before had I felt that way in March.
Acknowledging burn-out and its source and making space for it is the first step to recovery. So I started talking about it with close farmer friends at first and then more publicly. As I did, I heard echoed back to me all the same feelings of exhaustion, anxiety and physical pain. I am definitely not alone. Nor are you.
My guest in this episode, Amelia Ihlo, is also a friend, which made this would-be heavy conversation flow easily. It’s proof that talking to a friend can be a huge step forward when you feel burnt out. We both share our stories of and strategies for farmer fatigue. Amelia, the founder of Rooted Farmers, brings a uniquely powerful tactic to the table: collective selling. She talks about how flower collectives – or co-ops or hubs or whatever you want to call them -- have the capacity to snuff out burn-out. Maybe you’re like me and had never thought about collective selling as a defense against burn-out, but it really makes sense once you start thinking about it in that way.
On the Rooted Farmers blog, Amelia and her team have put together a couple great post on farmer burn-out and health. Check those out here.
Two other resources are:
Neither I nor Amelia are mental health professionals. Rather we are two experienced flower farmers and business women having a candid conversation. If you need support for a well-being crisis or are worried about someone else who does, please call or text 1 800 273 8255 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
If this episode makes you feel seen and you want to join a deeper conversation on farmer well-being, consider joining the Regenerative Flower Farmers Network, or RFFN for short. Over the past year, RFFN has developed into a safe harbor away from social media where all questions and scenarios are welcome, connections are made between farmers and experts, and experiences are shared so all members contribute to growing the knowledge of the group. Within that framework, we have a special space dedicated to discussing and supporting farmer well-being. Please join us there!