By Garrett Simmons
Family and Community Support Services
Kori Kuryvial has spent the last 40 years on the farm near Cranford.
As the new Farm Family Outreach Co-ordinator for Family and Community Support Services, she knows a thing or two about the stress involved in operating an agricultural operation here in southern Alberta.
That’s why Kuryvial and Emily Freiberg, a Farm Family Outreach Worker who grew up on a family farm near Bow Island, were tasked by FCSS to spearhead the Farm Family Outreach program.
“We’re hoping to reach out to farm families and share or connect them with resources that they may need, including resources that are available through FCSS such as Counselling Services” said Kuryvial. “We’d also like to provide workshops and lend a listening ear to the farmers and the farming families – be the people there to support them and be someone they can reach out to.”
Kaitlynn Weaver, Outreach Services Supervisor for FCSS, said the new program, which is funded through the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Red Cross, puts a focus on the wellbeing of those involved in a profession that features a unique set of challenges.
“Farming can be very, very stressful when all you do is work, all day, every day, and when you’re not working, you’re thinking about working, because you live it,” she said. “We thought it would be a good idea to find a couple of local folks who really relate to and know farming. The experiences Kori and Emily, as well as their connections to this area, really bring trust to our program.”
Kuryvial and Freiberg have been busy reaching out to local farmers and service providers, talking about the assistance that’s available to start those conversations around wellbeing.
“Both Emily and I have experience living the farm life,” said Kuryvial. “I hope to be able to share some of my experiences and the challenges I’ve faced, and how I’ve been able to work through them.”
Freiberg and her husband are third-generation farmers in the Bow Island area, and she is excited to work with Kuryvial to provide confidential support and resources to farm families looking to live a healthy and balanced life.
“It’s also really cool having Kori’s experience and also having her perspective about how farming has changed over the years – that’s really valuable.”
The duo aims to build trust in the local farming community and be a sounding board for locals seeking assistance and support. Through this program, they will refer farm families to FCSS Counsellors (if needed), system navigation supports, and raise awareness about wellbeing on the farm.
“I think all we can do is plant the seed that we are here and we are available, and make people comfortable to reach out to us,” said Kuryvial.
One strategy involves connecting with women in farm families, who can certainly relate to the stressors being an agricultural producer presents.
“They are certainly willing to talk about those challenges, and maybe that’s our way in – to have them take that home and start those conversations,” said Weaver.
But the program is about more than starting conversations around the farm family dinner table. It’s also about spreading the message in the communities FCSS serves, and letting other businesses and organizations know these supports and resources are available for farm families.
“It’s capacity building for farmers and farm families but it’s also for people that interact with farmers,” said Weaver, who offered up one example of how the community could come together to support agricultural producers. “If a farmer enters a bank and is visibly stressed and or struggling, the bank teller can refer them to us.”
Coffee break sessions for women in farming are also set for May 8 in Taber and May 1 in Warner, designed to help women recharge and enjoy a break from the busy farm routine.