How Buy a Bale begat Rural Aid

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Buy a Bale: Tracey and Charles Alder founded Buy a Bale in 2013 to reduce stress on drought-affected farmers. Photo: Supplied

Buy a Bale: Tracey and Charles Alder founded Buy a Bale in 2013 to reduce stress on drought-affected farmers. Photo: Supplied

“Buy a Bale started out as fundraiser in June 2013,” says CEO and co-founder Charles Alder.

He and wife Tracey  – also co-founder – were motivated to do something when they saw that farmers were shooting their cattle. “We wanted to do something to reduce the stress on farmers.”

They came up with the concept of asking Aussies to buy a bale online, and they would then take them to the farmers who needed it. The concept grew from there. “Drought comes and goes, and we wanted to find other ways to support rural communities, not just with feed and fodder, that would be beneficial to them,” Charles said.

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Rural Aid was founded in 2015 and from that they have not only the Buy a Bale program but also Farm Army, Farm Rescue, Gift of Music, and a number of others.

Farm Army is now a database of over 14,000 volunteers who want to spend some of their free time (or some of their annual leave) using their various skills to physically help farmers on their properties. Charles then said this “morphed into the Farm Rescue program which is where they will go out for a week and do a concerted job on a house or a community project”. 

Gaining support: Buy A Bale has been holding many fundraising events and activities since it started. Photo: Max Mason-Hubers

Gaining support: Buy A Bale has been holding many fundraising events and activities since it started. Photo: Max Mason-Hubers

Charles says he and Tracey have a passion for education, and they became aware of a number of rural schools seeking grants for music instruments. Based on the inkling there would be plenty of instruments collecting dust in people’s houses, you can now donate them to Gift of Music and they will “get them fixed if needed and re-gift them to bush kids in schools,” Charles said.

Additionally, Charles says they also “link them to grey nomads – mostly retired music teachers – who come to the school in their nomadic trips and ignite the passion for music in the students”.

Other programs include Under The Stars – Outback Experience to give city folk a first-hand farming experience, Rising Talent to support country music artists, Rural Aid Co Ordinators who help deliver their support services, Outdoor Cinema for screening Zootopia in a number of rural towns in Queensland and NSW, as well as Rural Aid Gift Card to help farmers buy other things their families need.

“The final thing is a rural counsellors program. We have nationally registered counsellors call in on farmers and find out how they are. People can refer to us if they need assistance,” Charles said.

To find out more about all of these and how you can help at an individual level, visit ruralaid.org.au/programs. You could also hold your own fundraiser for Buy a Bale. They have a simple online form to complete. This lets them know about your planned event, plus they can issue you with a letter of Authority to Fundraise. For detail seeruralaid.org.au/hold-a-fundraising-event

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This story Buy a Bale | The beginnings of Rural Aid first appeared on Town & Country Magazine.