Couple plants seeds of friendship for farmers
AMY Gunn is helping to bridge the gap between farmers and city folk, starting with the younger generation.
The Pen Pal Project, part of the Friend a Farmer initiative, connects farm kids with kids living in metropolitan areas.
Mrs Gunn lives on a sheep, cattle and fodder cultivation property near Condobolin in New South Wales with her husband Sam and two children, Max, 3 and Freddie, 1.
She started the Friend a Farmer Initiative on Facebook more than four years ago, in an attempt to educate people about farm life, and build a connection between the city and country.
“I was doing profiles of farming families and letting them talk about what they do, and letting people see the human side of them,” Mrs Gunn said.
“All the families that did it were happy to be contacted on Facebook. It gives people the option to contact a farmer.
“So many city people said they loved the idea of it and would love to have a friend who is a farmer and be able to visit a farmer, but they’d lost that connection.”
The Pen Pal Project came about when Mrs Gunn was contacted by a teacher at a school in Byron Bay.
“She (the teacher) was saying her kids wanted to help farming kids,” Mrs Gunn said,
“And instead of asking for food or clothes or any of that, I thought what a great opportunity to get these kids to develop relationships with farming kids and get them reconnecting again.”
Mrs Gunn said she put a post on Facebook asking if any children on farms would be interested in the project, and the response was overwhelming.
“I’ve had farm kids from Western Australia right across to the east coast wanting to join in,” she said.
“So I’ve been trying to match up every farm kid with a city pen pal.
“I’ve partnered up with a few other city schools, as well as some families that wanted to get involved.”
Mrs Gunn said addresses have been handed out and letter writing has started in the past week.
“I was hoping to get it all started by the start of the New South Wales term,” she said.
“I’ve had a fair bit guilt involved because I’ve been so flat out with the drought thing.
“I would like to donate a lot more time to it. I had hundreds and hundreds of messages.
“But I’m on top of it now!”
Mrs Gunn made the decision to use physical letters as opposed to emails.
“Mail day is an exciting time for farm kids,” she said.
“And kids get to practise their reading and writing as well.
“The most refreshing thing in dealing with the kids in this program is they don’t have any pre-set ideas and they want to learn.”
While Mrs Gunn’s own children are too young to
❝ While the drought has been on you realise how resilient kids are.
— Amy Gunn
become pen pals just yet, she said she is glad they can enjoy life on the farm.
“Max is right into everything and I’m so grateful for the life I have out here,” she said.
“While the drought has been on you realise how resilient kids are.
“Especially some of the kids that are more aware of what’s going on.
“Having the kids around has been really good in what has been a really s--t time.”
To get involved, visit the Friend a Farmer initiative page on Facebook.
Friend a Farmer foundersSam and Amy Gunn with their two sons Max, 3, and Freddie, 1.