“Women are often the ones trying to reach out for support”

Megz Reynolds, Executive Director Do More Agriculture Foundation, Ontario (Canada)


Last February, the Canadian foundation for the wellbeing of agriculturalists Do More Ag announced Megz Reynolds as its new Executive Director. For most people active on social media and interested in agriculture, Megz is a well-known agtivist working on awareness about and understanding of agriculture. In her new role, Megz hopes to bring awareness to mental health in agriculture and break the stigma surrounding the topic.

Megz, introduce yourself!

I grew up in Calgary, Alberta, a big city near the Rocky mountains and had a career in the Canadian film industry before trading film sets for tractor cabs and moving to a grain farm in Saskatchewan, Canada. While I am no longer on the farm, my time farming led me to policy and advocacy work and it is where I started sharing my story in an attempt to shed light on mental health in agriculture. I have two incredible young girls, 7 and 8 and together we love new adventures including exploring nature, climbing and science. After leaving the farm I spent two years working in agricultural manufacturing and this February I joined The Do More Agriculture Foundation as their new Executive Director. I have been enjoying using my background and lived experience in agriculture to continue the conversation and raise awareness for mental health in agriculture.

Tell us a little more about the Do More Agriculture Foundation.

The Do More Agriculture Foundation is the national voice and champion for mental health in Canadian agriculture. As Executive Director my role is to bring awareness to mental health in the agricultural community across Canada, and to work as a connector in the mental health in agriculture space between other organizations, producers, mental health professionals and government at a provincial and federal level. Do More Agriculture focuses on three main pillars, Awareness, Community and Resources. We strive to bring awareness to mental health in agriculture, break the stigma surrounding mental health, create educational opportunities and create community. We also focus on resources, making sure individuals know what supports are out there and how to connect to them. This summer we launched our mental health support QR code sticker, when scanned it will use an individual’s location and connect them to the crisis support line specific to their province or territory, from there they can also click through to the full resource page on our website.

How is the position of women in agriculture viewed in your part of the world? Could it be improved, in your opinion?

Last fall at harvest I put out a tweet questioning why so many in agriculture are quick to see women as extensions of their husbands. The tweet blew up, some dialogue was very positive, both online and within families, as women felt empowered to explore the role they want on the farm or in the industry. Other responses were straight-up harassment, defamation, and anger directed at myself and others supporting women in defining their role on farm and in agriculture. One of the direct messages I had in support of the conversation was from a woman whose parents had immigrated from Europe, she told me that in the country her parents came from there was no word for ‘farm wife’ just ‘farmer’. Another woman messaged me to tell me that after multiple incidents and no sign of anything changing she had left the industry, in her words it was ‘death by 1000 cuts’. My experience has shown me that we have a long way to go in Canada and the US before women are accepted, supported and given the opportunity the way men have been in the industry.

Do you notice differences between the genders in mental health issues?

While we are not mental health professionals at Do More Ag, we are boots on the ground and in regular communication with farmers and others in the industry. What we have learned is that women are often the ones trying to reach out for support, at times reaching out for their partner who is not comfortable seeking out help. Women also tend to be shouldering the supporter role on farms, especially in family dynamics where stigma keeps individuals from seeking professional help. Stigma surrounding mental health in agriculture is often stronger in men, they are still very much equating acknowledging and then reaching out for help as a sign of weakness. What is promising, is the external stigma is starting to breakdown, farmers are more vocal and supportive of mental health in agriculture and encouraging of others to reach out for help, however this comment is often followed by “but I would never need to talk to someone”, highlighting how far we still need to come in breaking down the internal stigma.

Do you have any advice regarding mental health on the farm for our readers?

I encourage everyone to check in on themselves daily, there is no health without mental health and while we won’t all be diagnosed with a mental illness in our lifetime we all will experience challenges with our mental health. There is no weakness in reaching out for help, talking to someone is better than talking to no one, and you will never regret checking in on a loved one or friend.

Megz Reynolds (36) came to agriculture following her curiosity. She learned everything hands on, working on the farm and in mechanics before moving on to becoming Executive Director at the Do More Agriculture Foundation.  A strong communicator, Megz sees herself as a connector of industry and government. Trying to live her life with the understanding that actions speak louder than words, she is working very hard on raising two kind, strong, independent, curious and thoughtful women. To learn more about mental health in Canadian agriculture or about The Do More Agriculture Foundation, you can visit the website.



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This article was published in Women in Ag Mag 2022-004. Click here to read the full article.


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