We’ve all seen the devastating images of drought and what our farmers are going through in these areas right now. What often gets forgotten is the local businesses of country towns are also doing it tough, as their usual customers tighten their belts even further.
I’m watching my friends and family battling drought conditions while also looking out my own window feeling the frustration of receiving little to no rain and not being able to run my little farm the way it should be, I have nothing growing here and no livestock either. Everything has ground to halt on the farm but there are people far worse off than I am, who are feeding livestock, carting water and watching the dust blow every time we get a windy day, or a useless dry storm comes through.
This drought means that farmers aren’t spending money. They’re not spending money on anything extra for their families, just the essentials, which means that local business suffers. The spraying contractors have nothing to spray, the harvest contractors have nothing to harvest, as sheep are sold off because the feed or water has run out, the shearers have less sheep to shear. Farming families aren’t spending money on things like dining out, family photography, new clothes, jewellery, new cars, extra things for the house, garden plants and the list goes on, even a coffee becomes an unaffordable luxury. Local small business really suffers when our farmers do.
The heartening thing for all of us in drought affected areas is the support we see from other people. Donations have been flooding in for our farmers to help with the basics, like food, bills, hay & water and we have some amazing organisations that distribute those donations to the people that need them.
Recently I came home to find a box of food items on my back verandah donated by a group doing great work. I had conflicting feelings about it though, to be honest. While it was a beautiful and generous gesture that I was grateful for, I was immediately thinking that this was one box of food I wasn’t going to be buying from my own local shops and businesses. I have no idea how many of these boxes were delivered around the country, but that adds up. Imagine if what had been delivered was a pre-paid visa card that could be spent locally? That way, the farmer is helped, and the local economy is helped, which keeps people employed, keeps local business’ doors open and keeps people in our towns…that would have a massive flow on effect!
These thoughts have prompted me to put together this post to share some great initiatives that you can support to help our drought affected country communities, by making the dollar that you donate work harder, by finding some country businesses to do your Christmas shopping or to help you plan your next holiday to be in some country towns!
1. Buy online from country businesses
Buy from the bush is a social media initiative has recently started and shares posts from country businesses that you can purchase from. Sort out your Christmas gifts, find a birthday present for someone special or just spoil yourself. All while supporting a business that is vital to their town in country Australia. I can assure you every purchase will make the owner do a little jig!
If you have a business that you would like featured with them, just add #buyfromthebush to your Instagram posts.
2. Shop it forward
Last year, Nikki Parkinson, from Styling You, started a #shopitforward initiative and put together a blog post with a huge list of rural, regional and remote businesses that you can purchase from. She has recently updated it and you can find it here: https://www.stylingyou.com.au/shopitforward-shop-with-online-businesses-in-drought-affected-areas/
3. Visit Rural and Regional Australia
I’ve recently found this Instagram account and absolutely love it! They share food, wine, accommodation and people posts from rural and regional Australia. If you want to support drought affected towns, head out for a visit! You can find some amazing places to stay through this account, just search #visitruralandregionalaustralia on Instagram.
4. Support Drought Drive
I don’t know anyone from the team at Di Jones Real Estate in Sydney, but I’ve come across a post they shared talking about a Drought Drive they are doing in December. Over three days they are bringing a convoy of 30+ cars through 14 different regional towns affected by the drought in NSW so that they can all spend money in those towns on food, fuel, accommodation and shop up a storm in the local shops. I just love this idea and hope some other city-based businesses take up the idea so more towns could have a visit from a convoy like this!
You can check out where they are going and nominate your business here: https://www.dijones.com.au/community/drought-drive/
5. Check out Graziher Magazine
Make sure you are a follower of Graziher Magazine’s social media or subscribe to their email list, so you know when their Christmas Catalogue comes out. Each year the Graziher team puts together a great catalogue of businesses that offer online shopping!
If you know of another initiative that encourages people to spend money with local businesses in our drought affected areas, please let me know and I can add them to this list!
Lastly, I hope the rains come again soon and our farmers and country towns can thrive again.
This photo was taken on my farm just outside Eugowra in Central West NSW at the start of October.
I can’t wait to see this place covered with some lush green grass again after lots of beautiful rain that I know will happen eventually, we’ve just got to keep going until it happens.
This post was written by commercial photographer, Kim Storey on LinkedIn and republished here with kind permission.
Check out Kim’s incredible coffee table book, ‘What does a farmer looks like’.