Raising Hope provides resources for mental/physical health

CRESTWOOD, Ky. — Debt, weather and volatile prices have become an additional burden on the shoulders of farmers while they continue to provide food to the community. While the stresses of farming can sometimes be too much, Raising Hope aims to promote the mental, physical health and safety of Kentucky farmers and their families.

What do you want to know

  • Raising Hope aims to promote the physical and mental health of Kentucky farmers
  • 109 Kentucky farmers committed suicide between 2004 and 2009
  • Maggie Keith is a fourth generation steward of Foxhollow Farm
  • Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner met with Raising Hope

Being a farmer means leaning on mother nature, being flexible and understanding that there will be good and bad seasons, which Maggie Keith, fourth generation steward of Foxhollow Farm understands first hand.

“I remember years when we couldn’t harvest very late and so we didn’t have our tomatoes on time, which takes a lot of revenue when you have late tomatoes,” Keith said.

For Keith, eliminating that stress is a little easier thanks to the community of entrepreneurial farmers that Foxhollow has partnered with.

“Six of us can come around a picnic table and say ‘it’s been a tough week, let’s talk about it,'” Keith said. “A lot of farmers are now alone in tractors all day, with lights to do it at night too and they don’t have that connection to the community. That’s exactly what we need.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles met with partners of the Raising Hope Coalition regarding the work that has been done to improve the mental and physical health of farmers. Quarles says that’s a much-needed addition, as reports show that from 2004 to 2009, 109 Kentucky farmers died by suicide.

“One of the problems in agriculture is the isolationism that often goes a day or days without seeing our neighbors or friends. We work long hours, when it is planting season or harvest season, we going to work 18 hours a day as long as the weather permits,” Quarles said.

They steered the Raising Hope campaign towards making resources and tools available to farmers. Keith thinks it should start with supporting local farmers.

“Stop aiming for these global markets,” Keith said. “Use either nonprofit money or government money to pay for sales of produce grown here in Kentucky to people who live here in Kentucky.”

Quarles aims to do this by promoting local farmers’ markets starting this month across the state of Kentucky.

“We have over 170 farmers’ markets and one of the things we’re trying to do after COVID is reconnect Kentuckians with their roots and support local agriculture,” Quarles said.

Raising Hope offers additional resources on its website, including the National Lifeline for Suicide Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services.

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