Welcome Veterans! We’ve assembled a library of resources for Veterans interested in careers as Sustainable Farmers, Ranchers, or Artisan Food Producers.
Whether you are iust beginning you career in agriculture or you are a seasoned Farmer Verteran, this guide provides useful information on everything from training opportunities to busines plans to organizations that can support your agriculture venture. There is a vast range of career opportunities in the agriculture industry, this guide can help you determine which route to take.
Download 2014 Farm Bill Benefits for Veterans (.pdf)
Here’s an excellent writeup from the Farmer Veteran Coalition and Drake University explaining the 2014 Farm Bill and how it applies to Veteran Farmers.
Download The U.S. Servicemember’s Guide to Academic Programs and Aid
A comprehensive guide from www.onlinecolleges.net. Thanks to Celine Brown for the submission!
Download NIFA’s Military and Veterans Portfolio (.pdf)
The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), a branch of the USDA, has administered quality research and evidence-based educational programs that strengthen military and veteran families for thirty years. This document contains an overview of their programs, and partner programs they have contributed to.
The following listings are for people and organizations that are either featured in “Ground Operations” or that we have come into contact with as the film developed. We hope they will help your journey or that of someone you know.
SEARCH BY STATE
California: Farmer Veteran Coalition
508 Second St. #206, Davis, CA 95616
Michael O’Gorman, Founder & Director
The Farmer Veteran Coalition is a national network of independent veterans-in-agriculture. Teamed up with the USDA, they offer educational retreats in sustainable agriculture all around the country, that take place over a long weekend and are free to veterans and their spouses. They have also held job fairs and are actively building a support network of mentors to assist with job training. Strategic grants to launch farm/ranch operations are available through the Bob Woodruff Fellowship Fund. Fellowship is an apt term for this group, they have been building a community of like-minded veterans for several years now.
California: Northcutt Ranch
Los Carneros (Napa Valley), CA
Northcutt Ranch is a veteran owned and operated ranch exploring viable options in sustainability, organic farming, livestock, and a family-oriented ranching lifestyle. We believe that as stewards of life and land, we are the guardians of the world our children will inherit and that our resources must be managed in a way that reflects that ethic. We believe that all the things we grow are medicines that enhance our quality of life and improve our health and well-being.
Note: Northcutt Ranch is look for a Veteran Farm Manager, housing provided, to run the organic vegetable farm and enlist other veterans to help with the effort. This is California’s famous wine country, some would call it paradise, that is within an hour of San Francisco.
California: Veterans’ Sustainable Agriculture Training (VSAT) at Archi’s Acres
Valley Center, CA
Colin (USMC) & Karen Archipley, Founders
VSAT (Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training) trains transitioning service men and women to be successful in the sustainable agriculture industry. More than 100 graduates have left our farm ready to help feed our nation the highest quality food available using the least amount of natural resources, while tapping into a fast growing sector with unique opportunities for small business’s and family farms. We assist with the job placement and business creation after classes end. Our graduates include successful farm owners and workers, soil-testing pioneers, restaurateurs, and owners of food companies. (Take time to surf their site for all the opportunities they offer.)
The mission of VTF is to provide American veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts with pride, education and fulfillment through a permanent source of sustainable income, community and contribution: The family farm. A Central Farm, operated by Circle Fresh Farms, Inc., provides a physical location for training in business planning, hydroponic organic growing methods, and greenhouse maintenance and construction. Veterans will be taught how to build environmentally controlled greenhouses of uniform size and design that utilize methods of high-tech, controlled environment crop culture. The greenhouses will protect crops from rain, snow, heat, cold, wind and insects thus named Controlled Environment Agriculture.
WVFV assists veterans returning to the United States as they begin their civilian careers or continue their educational pursuits by donating to them the necessary start-up tools (laptops, vehicles, machinery, tools, and commercial vessels to name a few). The organization was started in 2008 with the donation of a commercial fishing boat to a returning veteran and to date has helped over 500 veterans in their transitions. In the case of Adam Burke, WVFW bought the farmland and leases it back to Adam.
Florida: The Veterans Farm
7749 Normandy Blvd. #145, Jacksonville, FL 32221
Adam Burke (US Army), Founder
Shaun Valdivia (USMC), Public Relations Coordinator
Our mission is to help disabled combat veterans reintegrate back into society through the use of horticulture therapy, while working together in a relaxed, open environment. Veterans will work as a team to develop solutions that will enable them to overcome physical and mental barriers.We want to make connection between our veterans and the civilian community through our work and outreach at farmers markets and other venues. We want to educate the community about the health benefits of eating organic food, to help create a healthier nation.
WFAN is a community of women involved in sustainable agriculture. WFAN exists so that women can give each other the information, connections and encouragement they need to be effective practitioners and supporters of sustainable agriculture and healthy localized food systems. Their mission is to link and empower women to build food systems and communities that are healthy, just, sustainable, and that promote environmental integrity.
WFAN created the the Iowa Female Farmer Veteran Network project to serve Iowa women veterans interested in farming careers. In 2014 they will build a network of aspiring and beginning women farmer veterans and service providers, hold two career development workshops, and match women veterans with women farmer mentors. Women are the fastest growing demographic of both beginning farmers and military veterans. Many women from both urban and rural backgrounds are interested in farming. Iowa is home to 17,835 women vets. The rate of unemployment for women vets is higher than that of men.
Kentucky: Growing Warriors
Mike Lewis, Veteran Outreach Coordinator
The Growing Warriors Project is a program to train, assist and equip veteran families with the skills, tools, and supplies needed to grow high quality naturally grown produce for their families, their communities and their country. This is an opportunity for veterans to serve their communities in a new roll – as true nation builders – literally from the ground up – family by family and region by region. The GWP is a partnership that includes veterans, civilians and organization who work together as a driving force to help develop a local reliable food system.
Michigan: Anyone Can Farm
bakersgreenacres.com/acf (email form on the site)
Mark Baker, Farm Owner
Learn to grow food wherever you live, taught by Air Force veteran Mark Baker and his family, on 80 acres in Michigan. Continuing in the spring of 2013, courses on the complete guide to Pastured Poultry, Pastured Pork, Bio Char & Rocket Stoves 101, Introduction to Permaculture & Soils, Grass Feed Beef (Rotational Grazing), and Growing Vegetables will be held here at the Farm.The courses will be multiple day courses and you will lodge in the Anyone Can Farm Bunk House, Camp in the Camp Ground or stay at a local hotel.
Nebraska: Combat Boots to Cowboy Boots
Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture
Garrett Dwyer, Veteran Coordinator
This program assists military personnel and their families to become farmers, ranchers and business entrepreneurs, working with many governmental agencies to help with funding and program assistance. They offer both the 100-acre Farm Advantage program and the 100 Beef Cow Advantage Program, matching up beginning farmers and ranchers with existing mentors. Working with the USDA Farm Service Agency and organizations, they have developed a program to assist with business plans to address 30-year property transfers, as one generation hands the land over to the next.
New Mexico: Veteran Farmer Project
505-217-2027 or 877-775-2667
La Montanita Co-Op: 901 Menual Blvd. NE, Albuquerque, NM 87107
Robin Seydel, Community Development Coordinator
The VFP program is designed to (1) Get veterans involved in agriculture as a livelihood, (2) give veterans an introduction to basic farming and ranching skills, and (3) provide healing opportunities for veterans. They raise food and sell it at the farmers market. Trainings include Whole Farm Business Planning, Record Keeping, Financial Planning, effective On-Farm Decision Making and Enterprise Analysis. They work with the local V.A. and offer a VA Recreation Therapy van to trainings. Animal husbandry is a new venture, working in collaboration with Holistic Management International (see blog post).
Pennsylvania: Veteran Organic Farm Program
Delaware Valley College
Dennis Riling; email@example.com
A one-year program for a 36-credit certificate program, classroom subjects in organic farming and hand-ons experience at the Rodale Farm during the summer. DelVal is a Yellow Ribbon School. Vets who are eligible for the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill will have up to 100% of their tuition paid, in addition to funds for housing and bills. The curriculum includes business development skills and career placement assistance.
Pennsylvania: Troops to Tractors
Westmoreland Conservation District, Greensburg, PA
We are starting a new program to connect Veterans who want to farm with successful farm mentors, with the intention of helping facilitate paid apprenticeships, internships, or custom programs of a similar nature. Veterans may be eligible for GI Bill or VA support for these. Westmoreland County is home to well over a thousand farms—beef, dairy, horse, crops, and niche markets such as apiaries (honeybees), wineries, and specialty flowers, for instance. Agriculture has traditionally been the biggest economic driver in our County. Our rolling hills, parks and forests, and proximity to Pittsburgh makes this an attractive place to live and work.
The mission of Growing Veterans is to foster an environment where military veterans are empowered to be responsible stewards, leaders and active participants in their community. Acknowledging the many issues that veterans face: unemployment, homelessness, suicide, divorce and depression – we believe that in most cases the root cause o f these issues is isolation. Isolated from the peers they served with, from family and friends, the community as a whole, it can be difficult for a veteran to remain resilient and get the proper support they need. Growing Veterans provides a place where veterans can get together in support of a positive and worthy cause, feeding people, and allowing them to experience an informal peer-support setting, while encouraging them to use skills gained in the military or school to support the broader community with food security.
Washington: Peace Patch Farm
Liz Rivera Goldstein, Farm Owner & Program Administrator
Bob Logue, Farm Manager & Founder of Vet Connect
The founders of the Teen Peace Project & Vet Connect are joining together to create an agricultural training program for military veterans. This program is in the early stages. Applying Washington State University’s Sustainable Agriculture program, they will grow food, herbs and flowers for the local food bank and farmers market. Housing and training will be provided for 1-8 veterans per year, with possible stipend income.