Annabelle Guscott, 11, Ella Hansen, seven months old, and Ben Guscott, 8, atop some of the feed collected for Hawke’s Bay farmers. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

GIANINA SCHWANECKE
gianina.schwanecke@age.co.nz

It wasn’t all that long ago that Wairarapa farmers were faced with rising pressures relating to drought and questions of how to feed their stock.

Now the rural community is banding together to help Hawke’s Bay farmers for whom the rain and relief has yet to come.

Sophie and Daniel Hansen, the couple behind the Rapa Feed Run initiative, were inspired to set it up after learning about similar efforts for drought and bushfire-stricken farmers in Australia.

“The whole idea is that this is farmers helping farmers,” Sophie said.

Farmers with a bale or two of feed they can do without are asked to donate it to be sent to farmers struggling further north.

Both originally from Hawke’s Bay, the couple knows first-hand what dealing with drought looks like.

“We’ve worked on a farm and know how hard it is,” Sophie said. “We remember the impact it had on our families.”

They moved to Glen Eden in South Wairarapa two years ago.

“We were so fortunate [in Wairarapa] to get that rain at the end of March. That rain saved us and we know lots of other people who were in that same position.”

Since kicking off on Friday, more than 340 bales of hay, straw, and baleage had been offered to the cause.

She said support had come from across the region, and not just from farmers, with livestock agents, transport operators and farm consultants also chipping in to help.

“We can all help; by donating a small amount it can add up to a much bigger amount.

“We’ve even had a few lifestylers wanting to help, offering a half bale.”

Every bit was appreciated, she said.

Farmers are also encouraged to put a message on every bale they donate.

“When that farmer is feeding out in the middle of winter, unwrapping that bale, they will know there’s someone thinking about them and wanting to help,” Sophie said.

They were still working with industry leaders and bodies to ascertain how best to get the food to the farmers most in need.

Wairarapa was hit hard by drought until a few weeks ago, but finding supplementary feed was still difficult, Federated Farmers Wairarapa president William Beetham said.

He said a lot of people further north were “finding it really tough”, especially coupled with the impacts of covid-19.

The fact that many were still willing to give up what feed they had was “outstanding” and would help in more ways than one.

“I know there’s one benefit of the actual food, but the other benefit is that it gives those feeling isolated in Hawke’s Bay a message that there are people out there for them.”