Zoe Legg, 21, is studying extended agri-food and business management at Harper Adams University and helps run her family’s beef suckler herd in Devon.
My family has been running a beef suckler herd in Devon for roughly 18 years after converting from dairy and moving to our current farm from Dorset.
As is inevitable when you live on a farm, I was regularly called in to help move cows, on horse-back, and lend a hand with tricky calving.
But last year, my world was completely obliterated when my dad collapsed and never regained consciousness.
My crash course in farming began in earnest.
My experience in farming has always been linked to mental health.
It is something I have long suffered with – I am not ashamed to say so, in fact I am proud that every day I try to be as mentally aware and open about how I am feeling as I can.
But it is something that as an industry we need to bring to the forefront.
As a teenager I struggled with anorexia and the idea of admitting it was completely inconceivable.
Partly because I was not ready to face the facts, but mainly because I felt that the feelings of isolation, helplessness and despair were singular to me.
In an industry such as agriculture, where long stretches of time are spent alone, this feeling is only increased.
For me, the simple action of talking about it saved my life.
That is why I started an Instagram page called Let’s Go British.
It shares recipes, farming experiences and tales from lockdown, but most importantly it talks about mental health.
I hope to contribute, just a little, to the opening of conversation about mental health in agriculture and to normalise it.
A year on from losing my dad, the running of the farm is now back under control and I am now studying extended agri-food and business management at Harper Adams University.
Looking back, I now know that I spent too much energy trying to convince people that that I was fine and for absolutely no reason.
Admitting my real feelings would have been totally justified and my mum and I had a troop of caring people ready to do all they could, yet we were determined to keep ploughing on.
Why could we not tell anyone that we were screaming on the inside?
Why could I not share that I was running round like a headless chicken without a clue how to run a farm without my dad?
I also know that practicing at being open and honest with yourself and those around you and talking to people about your problems, really can make the world of difference. And as in industry we need to get better at it.
So now I am determined to keep talking about my little life wobbles and to show people that it is okay not to be okay.
Because if talking can save my life, it can save someone else’s.