‘Collective Hug’ gives drought-stricken Hawke’s Bay farmers much-needed winter lift

Sean Hogan
Source: 1News

Farmers stricken by drought in Hawke’s Bay could face their toughest test in the next six to eight weeks as winter bites.

But the community isn't letting them do it alone. The 1200 farms in the region today received a simple act of kindness made possible by one woman's hard work.

Diana Greer is the organiser in chief of the "Collective Hug", a project for drought-stricken Hawke's Bay farmers.

While some have used nude photos to support the cause, Ms Greer didn't want to go there.

“I thought in lieu of that a couple of fruit cakes would be a great donation and it just went bigger and bigger and bigger.”

Soon, donations started piling in, from crate loads of produce, to pallets of dog roll and soup. as well as home baking.

“And a lot of love that goes in each parcel.”

The 1200 farms in the region meant just as many deliveries of parcels today .

It took 15 hours of mapping and 55 volunteer drivers to make it happen, and 1 NEWS saw what it meant.

Cyndy Harper’s last few months have been hell.

“It's been a huge boost, it really has... I get a bit emotional,” she said.

Michael Lowther and his mob have been feeding out since March.

“It means a lot that people are actually thinking of us.”

And for Tim Hindmarsh it's a push before spring they desperately need.

“It's just out of the blue kindness - it's just a small thing and it means so much.”

Around $200,000 of the $3.5 million drought relief fund has been accessed by Hawke's bay farmers so far, but the rural advisory group expects to hand out much more and said the next six to eight weeks will be the toughest for some on farm.

Feed shortages mean animals are lighter than usual.

Lochie Macgillivray from the Rural Advisory Group said that has them worried.

“They are starting to lamb or calf which means their intake and their requirements have increased so we get metabolic issues coming through.”

And with these difficult times tipped to go on, Ms Greer set to continue her work.

“Very gratefully received which always gives me the warm feeling when people acknowledge and say thank you too.”

It shows a bit of unexpected love goes a long way.