A WIMMERA farmer will continue to spread awareness of mental health issues, as he embarks on a tour of Tasmania.
Ben Brooksby, more commonly known as The Naked Farmer, will head to the southern state next month as he aims to reduce the stigma associated with mental health.
The St Helens Plains farmer's Instagram page now has almost 94,000 followers and profiles people from across Australia in an effort to raise awareness and money for mental health.
As part of the tour, Mr Brooksby will gather photos for his 2020 calendar and a book, featuring stories of farmers from across the country.
Mr Brooksby will leave for Tasmania on June 17, but has one major hurdle to get over before he starts meeting farmers.
"I get on the boat on June 21, which I am petrified about because I get seasick," he said.
"But I will stock up on medication and hopefully get there in one piece."
Once in Tasmania, Mr Brooksby will travel to the west coast, before heading back to the centre of the state and working his way down the middle.
He will then go back up the east coast.
"The first farm I am visiting is a place called the Organic Milk Group, which is a dairy farm," he said.
"I'm then going to another dairy farm where I have about 20 ladies lined up who are keen to be involved.
"I'm hoping to get a big group shot of them, all in aprons, milking cows - it should be an epic photo, if I can pull it off."
Mr Brooksby said the farms he would visit grow a range of things such as garlic, poppies, hemp and vegetables.
"The good thing about Tassie is that there is such a good range of produce that they grow," he said.
"Farms around the Wimmera are all cropping, so I want to show people where other food comes from.
"Many people don't know where their vegies come from."
Mr Brooksby said as a farmer himself, he was looking forward to talking to other farmers.
"I want to be able to spent time with these people and learn what their life is like," he said.
"I'm happy to help out on the farms as well - it will be an educational trip for me.
"It's a lot wetter and greener down there and summer is their main growing period because it gets too cold in winter."
The tour will last 10 days.
"Last year I did a tour of the whole of Australia in three weeks, so I plan on enjoying Tasmania a bit more and not be so rushed," Mr Brooksby said.
Throughout the tour, he hopes to have a conversation with people about mental health, and take photos for his naked calendar and book.
Mr Brooksby put out a call on his social media platforms for Tasmanian farmers wanting to get involved in The Naked Farmer project.
"I had more than 35 farmers put their hands up - it was crazy the amount of support I had," he said.
Mr Brooksby said he would visit 10 properties and speak to as many people as possible.
"I want to spread the importance of talking about mental health and being there for one another," he said.
"Mental health is such a big issue in the industry - everyone goes through it or knows someone who has.
"Sadly, it's becoming the norm now that many people have lost someone to suicide."
Mr Brooksby said being kind to another person could change their day.
"If I see someone on the side of the road, I always stop and make sure they are alright," he said.
"They might need help changing a tyre or something."
In 2016, Mr Brooksby stopped to help a car that had become bogged on the side of the Western Highway between Horsham and Stawell.
"You never know what you might find by stopping to help someone," he said.
Mr Brooksby said The Naked Farmer book, which would feature stories and photos from farmers across Australia was starting to ramp up.
"We are getting stories written up and finalised now," he said.
"We are also creating calendars again for 2020, so photos from Tasmania will go in there as well."
The Naked Farmer produced 2019 calendars this year, which quickly sold out.
Mr Brooksby said more than 1000 calendars were sold, which raised $17,228.
Mr Brooksby said it was amazing to see the awareness of mental health issues growing.
"The message is getting out there more and more and I'm hearing more people talking about it," he said.
"The ones talking about it and the ones taking their clothes off for photos, they are the ones driving the project now - they are the naked farmers.
"It's all making a difference and it's amazing the amount of people who want to get amongst it."
Mr Brooksby said a single photo could have a big impact.
"When you see someone in your community doing a naked photo, the whole town starts talking about it," he said.
"It's a really good way to start conversations.
"I started The Naked Farmer social media as a bit of fun and to make people smile.
"I never thought it would blow up like this and I am forever grateful for the amount of people who have helped put mental health in a positive light.
"It is most rewarding."
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