Helping Veterans Trade Their Swords for Plows By (PATRICIA LEIGH BROWN – New York Times)
EXCERPT: On an organic farm here in avocado country, a group of young Marines, veterans and Army reservists listened intently to an old hand from the front lines. “Think of it in military terms,” he told the young recruits, some just back from Iraq or Afghanistan. “It’s a matter of survival, an uphill battle. You have to think everything is against you and hope to stay alive.”
The battle in question was not the typical ground assault, but organic farming — how to identify beneficial insects, for instance, or to prevent stray frogs from clogging an irrigation system. It was Day 2 of a novel boot camp for veterans and active-duty military personnel, including Marines from nearby Camp Pendleton, who might be interested in new careers as farmers.
“In the military, grunts are the guys who get dirty, do the work and are generally underappreciated,” said Colin Archipley, a decorated Marine Corps infantry sergeant turned organic farmer, who developed the program with his wife, Karen, after his three tours in Iraq. “I think farmers are the same.”
Programs Throughout the Country are Working with Veterans to Help them Develop the Skills they Need to Become Successful Farmers:
- Douglas and Pamela Holloway are the owner/operators of Snow Hollow Farm in Spotsylvania, Virginia. Although the farm is only 11 acres, they produce beef cattle, meat chickens, eggs, and run a micro-dairy with their Jersey cow. More importantly than this, they are the owners of Go Farm University and are currently partnering with the Disabled Veterans Housing Committee, the US Army Wounded Warrior Program and the USMC Wounded Warrior Regiment out of Quantico. They have the support of Joel Salatin from Polyface Farm and are teaching sustainable farming on line with a follow on internship for 3 months on their farm. They can be reached at email@example.com or you can find out more about their farm at https://www.facebook.com/#!/snowhollowfarm.
- Veterans Farm in Jacksonville, Florida was started by Sgt Adam Burke, an OIF/OEF combat veteran and Purple Heart recipient who was wounded in battle during a 15 month tour in Iraq. (See his story at soldiering on http://www.nragive.com/ringoffreedom/index.html). In 2009, Adam was moved, when he noticed a young able and willing veteran sitting in the mall hungry and depressed. He could see the veteran was too proud to ask for help and knew he had to find a way to help his fellow soldiers. Just a hand out would not be sufficient, but a sustainable way to get their life back on track was the key. This is where the concept to combine therapy, work, education, and socialization through growing blueberries and blackberries was discovered. You can learn more at http://veteransfarm.com/default.aspx.
- Goat Peak Ranch is a small ranch located near Red Wing, Minn., and owned and operated by Lynette Nadeau and her husband Keith Cahill (Vet US Navy). They own the largest herd of pure DNA certified rare Savanna meat goats in the area. The Goat Peak Ranch Veteran’s Internship Program will have its first season this year starting this Spring/Summer. I will develop and direct all Veterans activities for our participants. We will offer weekend and week long sessions to start, then as the Program develops we will be accepting Vets who would like to assist us with year round ranch activities. Learn more about the ranch at its website: www.goatpeakranch.com.
- LEARN ABOUT COMMON GROUND ORGANIC FARM AND VETERAN COOPERATIVE (CALIFORNIA) AT http://cgof.org/
- Check out a great new film about veterans returning from the war to start a life in farming at: http://www.walkyourtalk.tv/A-Greater-Mission/
- The Michigan State University Vets to Ag Program is a 6 week program administered by Tom Smith, and is a unique program to train homeless US veterans to work in agriculture. Training is coordinated by the MSU Institute of Agricultural Technology and is delivered by experts from MSU faculty and staff, including MSU Extension, Kellogg Biological Station, and the private sector. Training includes: Basic plant and soil science; Equipment and workplace safety; Equipment operation; Computer skills; Integrated pest management; Training for the Michigan certified pesticide applicator exam; and Specific training in a broad range of agricultural industries. For more information go to: http://iat.msu.edu/iat/vets_to_ag.
- Veterans Green Jobs is a nonprofit organization located in Denver Colorado. Their mission is to connect military veterans with meaningful employment opportunities that serve our communities and environment. We help vets find career opportunities in stable economic sectors related to energy efficiency and energy conservation; clean and renewable energy; natural resource conservation; environmental restoration; and other sustainability sectors. Founded in 2008, Veterans Green Jobs operates programs in a variety of sustainable fields. We believe that by equipping our nation’s military veterans with transferable skills, tools and resources, Veterans Green Jobs will enable veterans to maintain their sense of service, give back to their community, and contribute to a healthy, sustainable and secure future for people and the planet.