Naked Farmer un­veils plan for tour

Narrogin Observer - - News - Joanna De­la­lande

The founder of a pop­u­lar In­sta­gram page fea­tur­ing naked Aus­tralian farm­ers will visit WA this month on his tour of about 38 farms across the coun­try.

Vic­to­rian grain and sheep farmer Ben Brooksby started The Naked Farmer on May 12 last year when a photo his friend and pho­tog­ra­pher Emma Cross cap­tured took off on social me­dia.

“Peo­ple were laugh­ing and mak­ing jokes and I thought, ‘why is this get­ting such a re­ac­tion? Of course, it’s be­cause I’m naked’,” he said.

“That sparked the idea. I cre­ated The Naked Farmer pages on Facebook and In­sta­gram and, within the first week, I had more than 1000 fol­low­ers.”

The pho­tos, which fea­ture male and fe­male farm­ers from all over Aus­tralia “with their kits off”, now serve as a plat­form through which farm­ers can be no­ticed and recog­nised for their work and the hard­ships they go through.

So far, Mr Brooksby plans to visit places such as Eu­cla, Raven­sthorpe, Mount Barker, Dum­b­leyung, Mullewa, Kar­ratha, Broome, Ku­nunurra and the North­ern Ter­ri­tory.

“Not many peo­ple know the work that goes into pro­duc­ing the food that ends up on their plate,” he said.

“I wanted to ed­u­cate peo­ple on where our food and fi­bre comes from, and that’s where I thought this would be a great way of get­ting peo­ple to sit down and no­tice our farm­ers first­hand.

“A cou­ple of months af­ter the project started, with all the mo­men­tum it had gained, I thought it would be a great ves­sel to raise aware­ness about men­tal health in the farm­ing in­dus­try and in ru­ral Aus­tralia more broadly.”

Mr Brooksby, who has suf­fered from anx­i­ety and cor­re­lated de­pres­sion, said men­tal health in coun­try Aus­tralia was a preva­lent is­sue that needed to be ac­knowl­edged and spo­ken about.

“Hav­ing dealt with men­tal health first­hand, see­ing oth­ers strug­gle with it and hav­ing fam­ily and friends take their own lives has en­cour­aged me to stand up and want to help any way I can pos­si­ble,” he said.

“The first thing I did was con­tact the Royal Fly­ing Doc­tor Ser­vice, where I got author­ity to fundraise where all the money raised goes to the ru­ral men­tal health part of the RFDS. It’s been in­cred­i­bly time­con­sum­ing.

“Lots of hard work and ef­fort hap­pens be­hind the scenes but, at the end of the day when I see peo­ple en­joy­ing, laugh­ing and lov­ing the im­age that’s posted each day, or I hear a story about some­one spark­ing that con­ver­sa­tion about men­tal health be­cause of a photo, it makes it all worth it.”

Mr Brooksby said he would leave Vic­to­ria on June 23 to start his month-long jour­ney around the coun­try, vis­it­ing more than 100 farm­ers who had shown in­ter­est in his project.

He aims to gather pho­tos to turn into a male and fe­male Naked Farmer cal­en­dar, and sto­ries from Aus­tralian farm­ers to turn into a book which he hopes to get pub­lished by the end of the year.

“I thought this opened up for a great op­por­tu­nity to hear some sto­ries first­hand of life on the land and the strug­gles, love and pas­sion that goes with farm­ing,” he said.

“That’s where I would love to put to­gether a book with all these sto­ries, so we can all con­nect with our farm­ers.

“I’m ex­cited about the book — it’ll give a voice to peo­ple who are go­ing through is­sues and will let oth­ers know they are not alone.”

He said it was not too late for Great South­ern farm­ers to put their hands up to re­ceive a visit from him as he passed through the re­gion.

He has set the ten­ta­tive date at June 25.

Mr Brooksby said The Naked Farmer had also started a new un­der­wear line, avail­able for pur­chase on­line.

“We sell hats as well, with the prof­its go­ing to the RFDS,” he said.

“We also hope to use some of the re­main­ing funds for work­shops around Aus­tralia where we get farm­ers to­gether in a group to talk about their hard­ships — you see grown men cry, it’s very pow­er­ful.”

Pic­ture: Ben Brooksby

Ben Brooksby ex­cited about book.

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