Author(s): Doug Avery
Eight years, the drought lasted. Marlborough's hills bleached straw-yellow then became ash, so bare the earth's bones poked through, dusty and crumbling. Day after day, the sky was a relentless, empty blue. Sometimes we could see clouds, grey and fat with the promise of rain, passing by on the northwest horizon, but they never looked our way. And so begins Doug Avery's story of emotional resilience in the face of what at times seemed a hopeless situation. The South Island farmer suffered terribly during eight years of drought. His farm was depleted and so was he. Although he didn't realise it at the time, Doug had severe depression. His story, he says, is common to many in farming who soldier on in isolation, slipping further and further into debt and desperation. The Resilient Farmer is Doug's powerful story of getting life back on track - for him, his family and livelihood. It's also an incredible tale of Kiwi can-do and how one man overcame heartbreaking adversity to live a fruitful life and help others.
Doug Avery manages Bonavaree Farm with his family at Grassmere, South Marlborough. The 1500-hectare farm has been owned by the Avery family since 1919. The Averys won the 2010 'South Island Farmer of the Year' for their work adapting farm-management systems in response to increasingly dry conditions. Doug was also Chairman of the Starborough/Flaxbourne Soil Conservation Group working with NZ Landcare Trust, an initiative whose innovative work has attracted both national and international attention.