Planting Seeds of Help

September 15, 2023
Cover of farmer well being report, featuring two hands planting a seedling in soil.

Despite years of experience, fifth-generation flower farmer Leroy Hardy was facing foreclosure on his farm near Sedley, Virginia. To navigate the financial crisis, Hardy reached out to Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) for mediation assistance, and he emerged with his assets intact.

So when RAFI, the Land Loss Prevention Project (LLPP) and the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) received a grant from Southern SARE to help farmers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia navigate financial and mental health crises, Hardy was happy to collaborate.

Project organizers surveyed farmers who had recently experienced a financial crisis and differentiated experiences based on race to help produce culturally relevant resources. They found that “resources available to farmers didn’t address the varied experiences of farmers in financial and emotional crises,” says Andrew Smolski, a sociologist from North Carolina State University (NCSU). The project yielded a number of strategies communities can use to help farmers navigate financial stresses. And ATTRA's Farmer Well Being website provides additional resources farmers can use to find the support they need.

Farming and ranching is stressful business. And farmers’ physical and mental health is a crucial component of agricultural sustainability. Fortunately, farmers like Hardy are willing to support one another. “Participating in this project was my way of being there to help someone else going through what I went through so that it’s not so much of a painful ordeal for them.”

Want more information? See the related SARE grant and related resources:

This story is part of a series highlighting SARE projects using innovative strategies to help farmers and ranchers manage stress. Visit for more information.

Topics: Farm Business Management, Quality of Life, Social Capital, Social Networks, Social Psychological Indicators, Sustainable Communities
Related Locations: North Central, Northeast, South, Virginia, West