A free screening of a film about simultaneously securing the future of America’s food supply and the future of returning veterans comes to Lexington on Oct. 24.
As with so many new ideas, the idea of getting returning veterans to help themselves and others through farming came to Sgt. Adam Burke of Jacksonville, Florida, at a time of personal need. He lay bleeding on the Iraqi battlefield, and what he remembers desperately needing from God at the time was to see his family again and to live a life worthy of divine intervention.
Two years later, he took a childhood of blueberry farming to the next level and started the Veterans Farm. The land provides a place of emotional solace and job training for returning vets. “Teach these guys how to farm, they can have sustainable lives with sustainable agriculture,” Burke says. Burke and the veterans grow blueberries on the Florida farm.
A new film tells Burke’s story and the stories of others who are returning to the land once home from a foreign battlefield. Ground Operations: Battlefields to Farmfieldsshows the struggle of former servicemen and women who experienced unemployment, PTSD, addiction and attempted suicide before finding restoration for themselves and their communities in sustainable farming and ranching.
The 40-minute documentary produced and directed by Dulanie Ellis will be shown at 7 p.m. in Lexington on Oct. 24 at the Oleika Shrine Temple at 326 Southland Dr. The screening and accompanying event is free, but donations to Growing Warriors will be accepted. Growing Warriors is a local farmer-veteran organization and part of a national Ground Operations campaign.
There is a growing network, says Ellis, of combat veterans transitioning into sustainable farming and food production. Organizers say half of the farmers in America are at retirement age and that the USDA is calling for one million new farmers and ranchers in the next 10 years.
Ground Operations makes the point that the work is perfect for returning service personnel “who need a place to de-escalate from the high-velocity impact of combat” and “who need a new mission.” The documentary “follows an ensemble of young men and women who tell us why they joined the military, how the war changed them, how they’ve struggled to return home and ultimately, how they found sustainable farming and ranching to be the answer to a dream,” according to a press release.
There will be a light supper served at the Oct. 24 showing and a panel discussion about veterans strengthening America’s food security with Ellis, Mike Lewis from Growing Warriors and others. The event will coincide with the American Farmland Trust conference to be held in Lexington.
October 14, 2014