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Drought a community experience

Working local means Citycare teams are part of the communities where we live, experiencing life’s ups and downs alongside our friends and neighbours.

Citycare Water Hastings Branch Manager Kelvin Ferguson is fully aware of the drought across Hawkes’s Bay and the financial and emotional impact it is having on his local community.

He knows the small things count when you reach out to help.

In recent months Kelvin has been part of an initiative to send food baskets and fresh vegies to local farmers, while others have facilitated trucks of donated animal feed.

“Some friends and I were talking about the weight of the financial impact of this drought on some members of our community and we’re just trying to come up with ideas to help,” he says.

So, Kelvin visited a farming friend to work for a weekend assessing his grass growth and feed budget.

“We just took some time to hang around – providing moral support is also very important during times like this,” Kelvin says.

“We didn’t get the good news story we were hoping for when going out there to do the feed budget and that’s why the moral support was quite welcome.”

To put the drought in perspective, Kelvin says his friend’s farm is 1,000 hectares and he’s farmed it for over 30 years. His father and his grandfather farmed that same block before him. There is some native bush at the back of the block, but this drought is so severe the bush is all dead.

“We’ve never seen anything like that before, none of the farmers have. These native plants have probably been there for 100 years and they’ve just succumbed to the drought – that just shows how drastic the weather has been,” Kelvin says.

Little rain and dry dams and streams on farms results in a lack of grass which means there’s a shortage of animal feed. Farmers are forced to buy feed or sell livestock. Such difficult decisions create stress and exhaustion.

As Kelvin says, assisting the drought-stricken farmers can be as simple as offering moral support and a little practical help.

Efforts such as Kelvin’s are at the heart of the Citycare culture, and as all Kiwis have shown lately, it’s good to show we care and help in our local community. hill side