Gardiner Foundation invests in emerging leaders and practices to help develop a vibrant, long-term future for the dairy industry and its communities.
2023 Nuffield Scholar
Nuffield Scholar to focus on farmers’ mental health in changing climate
Dairy farmer and mental health counsellor Sarah Crosthwaite is embarking on study to understand how different agricultural sectors across the world support their producers’ mental health, especially in a changing climate.
Sarah has been awarded a Nuffield Scholarship, supported by the Gardiner Foundation, to study this important topic.
Sarah and husband Stuart returned to the family’s The Hermitage Dairy Pty Ltd operation in the Kiewa Valley in north-east Victoria in 2005. It runs 500 Friesian cows over 1500 acres, to produce 4 million litres per year.
Since returning to the business, they have invested heavily in infrastructure, including a feed pad and shed to manage climate and seasonal impacts on the cows. Sarah and Stuart are also founding members of the Mountain Milk Co-op, which was formed after the collapse of Murray Goulburn in 2016. They have grown the business, and they now employ four full time staff. This has allowed Sarah to work part time as a Natural Disaster Clinician. She works across the Ovens Murray region offering on-farm therapeutic counselling to people with mental health issues.
Through her Nuffield Scholarship, Sarah plans to study the topic ‘Mentally healthy farmers equal a healthy dairy industry during the adversity of climate change’.
“With the predicted climate change impacts and knowledge of greater mental health issues, I am keen to learn from agricultural sectors across the world,” Sarah says.
Sarah hopes to visit Canada, the US, Scotland, France and parts of Australia as part of her Nuffield Scholarship.
“I want to understand and share with Australia’s agricultural industries learnings that have been gained from such disasters in relations to farmers’ mental health and wellbeing. I will study how these can be implemented to support dairy farmers mental health in the North-East of Victoria so that they can continue to grow healthy dairy businesses while facing the challenge of climate change.”
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