G’day! My Name is Ben Brooksby, founder of The Naked Farmer. I am 24 and an 5th generation farmer from St Helens Plains in Western Victoria. Here’s my story.
THAT LIGHT BULB MOMENT
The Naked Farmer was founded on May 13th 2017 after a light bulb moment of reflection while I was sowing lentils, the very seeds I had used as a ‘cover up’ while wearing nothing but my boots, socks and hat in the back of the grain truck, in a random photo the season prior. Emma Cross from Emma Jane Industry had been coming out to our family farm for a few years, capturing the harvest on film but never like this!
So here I was on the tractor on a nice autumn day, sowing lentils for our next harvest, while creating an Instagram account. I called it The Naked Farmer, posting my near naked photo, all for a bit of fun. The response went viral and within 7 days I had 1000 followers and I knew I’d struck a chord with the wider community. This idea quickly became the framework for a social media based business, highlighting agriculture through photos of ‘naked farmers’ with props strategically placed. It is also a great platform to educate consumers (around the world, as it turns out) about where their food and fibre comes from!
THE GUTS OF THE STORY
Having experienced anxiety as a teenager while living through 10 years of drought on the farm, I had to leave my issues behind fairly quickly after our family home was burnt to the ground in 2015. Out of the ashes, my father handed me the job of managing the construction of a new home, at the age of 22.
This became a turning point in my life and from that experience I decided this crazy concept of The Naked Farmer could actually support people in the agricultural industry who suffer from mental health issues. Statistics prove that the suicide rate amongst farmers is almost double than any other industry and I’m passionate about changing these stats. I also know from personal experience that your state of mental health can be turned around through positive change even when the worst happens!