The Resilient Farmer is an inspiring read about South Island farmer Doug Avery facing up to the mental and emotional challenges of farming life when there was so much outside his control.
The book is deeply personal and disarmingly honest. Doug redefines the farmer stereotype by sharing in a no holds barred way what was really going on for him during some extremely tough years. To quote Doug; “The first five of those drought years, things got pretty ugly for me, and I dived into a very dark pit. No matter what I did, I was unsuccessful. I had a destroyed farm, a destroyed bank account and destroyed hopes”.
However, this is not a gloomy read. Consistent with the book's subtitle Weathering the challenges of life and the land, we are privy to how Doug turned things around from those dark times in 1998 to winning South Island farmer of the year in 2010. We do hear a lot about how Doug learnt to farm differently, to farm with nature, rather than against. But the story is mostly about Doug’s journey of becoming emotionally resilient.
You don’t have to be a farmer to engage with the story. If you’re interested in how to become a better person when all seems stacked against you, you will get heaps out of this book.
The enduring insight I took from The Resilient Farmer is that resilience is not an individual concept, but a connected one. It does take courage to face up to your own limitations, but Doug shows that when you do this, your strength comes from the network of people that you decide to welcome into your life.
This book is about a man turning his life around to find meaning and purpose in giving and receiving from others and “bouncing forward” in the face of life’s many challenges.
Reviewed by Gerard Vaughan, social marketing consultant.