Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Lesley Kelly, co-founder of Do More Agriculture Foundation, located in Watrous, SK, Canada.
What's your foundation, and who are your members?
The Do More Agriculture Foundation is the national voice and leader for mental health in Canadian agriculture. It is changing the culture of agriculture to one where all producers are encouraged, supported, and empowered to take care of their mental wellbeing. Producers are among the most vulnerable when it comes to mental health issues. By collaborating with the entire industry and those working to address the state of mental health in Agriculture, Do More Ag is making a substantial impact. Since its inception in 2018, Do More Ag focuses on three pillars to help the agriculture industry: Building awareness about mental health, fostering and building a community where mental health discussions can be shared in openly and in safe environments, and bringing and building much-needed resources to producers, their families, and communities.
Tell us about yourself
Before sharing a live video of my husband and I's mental health journeys in 2017, we thought that we were the only ones who were going through hard times as we had a hard time finding resources and felt we could not share our struggles. I went through postpartum depression after having our second boy. My husband lives with anxiety and panic attacks, mainly attributed to farm stress (financial stress, physically demanding job, long days, long hours, isolation, etc.). After we shared what we had gone through and what helped us, we received an overwhelming response of feedback from those in and out of agriculture across Canada and the world. Others shared that they too had gone through hard times, or are going through them, what helped, why they felt they couldn't reach out, and more. We realized there were deeply rooted issues within agriculture that prevented so many from accessing the help they deserved, where it was because of the nature of the work we do (can't take time away from the farm and drive 4 hours to see a doctor, lack of rural mental health care professionals in areas, and the stigma). I and three others co-founded Do More Ag, the first of its kind in the world that focuses on mental health for farmers.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a foundation?
My biggest accomplishment since cofounding Do More Ag is seeing supportive and open dialogue about mental health in agriculture on social media, at events, and at board room tables. Other times it's been receiving a message hearing someone say that they found a resource on the website that helped them or their family. They attended a workshop and applied those tools to help their mental health. My hope in the future and one that we are working on is bringing a 24/7 crisis and ongoing support line to all farmers and their families across Canada. Every farmer will have access to help.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a foundation?
One of the hardest things that have come was when we started to talk about mental health openly, we received a lot of supportive comments and feedback, but there were some comments from other farmers that hurt. We were told that we were pretending farmers, and if we couldn't handle the stress, we should get out of farming. Farming is an amazing career and way of life, but it is stressful, and we are not immune to feeling that stress. Comments that perpetuated that stigma and negatively attacked us when we were trying to help others were one of the hardest hurdles we've overcome, personally.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow an organization today?
- Create a supportive team around you of people who have different skills that will not only cheer for you but help you.
- Focus on the journey, not the destination. It is a marathon, where you will sprint a lot at times and pivot. Stay curious, open yet persistent.
- Take care of yourself. Being a business owner is hard and challenging, yet very rewarding. Taking care of you is also taking care of the business.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
For resources and to learn more about how Do More Ag is changing the mental health landscape in ag, please visit our website.
Where can people find you and your group?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email email@example.com; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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