Bridging the Divide

Rural NZ Photo by Werner Sevenster on Unsplash

The Bridging the Divide project came about following Dorenda Britten’s work on an Our Land and Water National Science Challenge project with Farmlands, an agricultural co-operative in Aotearoa New Zealand. She found there was a need for easily accessible, more empathetic solutions for farmers, to help them create a mindset for implementing environmental policies.

It was proposed that retirees with business acumen and wisdom could be ideal for this.  The Bridging the Divide project brought this idea to life, bringing together urban people who have considerable experience, expertise, wisdom and time – ‘elders’, with farmers, who are feeling the stress of facing some of the greatest challenges of our time.

The elder provides support for the farmer, by gifting their time to listen and help the farmer identify where opportunities might lie and the challenges for implementation. As well-known farmer and writer Doug Avery says in his book ‘The Resilient Farmer’, things changed for the better when he realised the value of engaging a mentor from an unrelated background to assist him to think clearly – often over a cup of tea.

Farmers are so important to the future of all communities. The significance of their role in the changing world cannot be understated.  This project aims to support farmers by enabling the sharing of wisdom, and giving elders the opportunity to learn the realities and challenges of farming and give back; helping to bridge the divide of understanding between city and country.

Get involved with next steps. We are looking for participants and people who can support this project.

Terra Nova Foundation and Dorenda Britten are implementing this pilot project with support from the Ministry of Primary Industries (NZ Government department), and working in partnership with Summerset Retirement Villages and the NZ Agricultural Show.  We are underway with the pilot in Canterbury and will be getting feedback on its potential and exploring the possibility for a full roll-out.

Subject to support, the project will be applied to multiple regions, supporting farmers across the country and bridging the divide between urban and rural understanding and opportunities for change.

If you would like to be involved, as a supporter, partner organisation, farmer, elder or in some other capacity please get in touch.

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