Newsletter – April 2014

Newsletter – April 2014



Ground Operations Launches
On Roku!


Ground Operations is now available for live streaming on Olive Tree Pictures new Roku Channel!

Ground Operations is excited to announce that we have partnered with Olive Tree Pictures to make the film available streaming right to your TV on Roku. Olive Tree Pictures distributes film, documentaries, and short films that provide award-winning, life transforming, original programming to our viewing audience and provides a platform for filmmakers of these stories.

Ground Operations is available on Roku for $2.99 for a 72 hour rental period, with 1/3 of the rental fee going directly to the filmmaker and another 1/3 going to Growing Veterans.

What is Roku?
Roku is a set top device that streams content from HBO, Disney, A&E, Hulu, Amazon and smaller players like Olive Tree Pictures to your TV!

How to Watch
Search for “Olive Tree Pictures” in the Roku Channel Store or click the button below and enjoy!

Add Olive Tree Pictures’ Roku channel


Environmentalists love our veterans!

Ground Operations: Battlefields to Farmfields is invited to more environmental film festivals than anything else. The Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital was an exciting collection of cinematic documentaries. We were honored to be invited. Can you imagine — over 200 “green” films, for 2 weeks, all over the city, for free!

We had a terrific crowd at our screening and the panel rocked. Ethne Clark (far right) brought 200 Organic Gardening shopping bags with copies of the magazine and a calendar inside. Elizabeth Kucinich (next to me) spoke about food safety and small farms benefitting the city.  Both Elizabeth and Ethne are founding members of the Ground Operations Advisory Council.

But the steal-the-show moments came from our veterans, Navy SEAL Coleman Ruiz (rt) and former Marine, Calvin Riggleman (lf), of Bigg Riggs Farm.  Calvin told a story about last winter when the ice storms hit and the Eastern Corridor went without power for 10 days.  He got a call from the local power company who asked if he could feed their crews while they fixed the lines.  Calvin’s crew went to work in their commercial kitchen and pumped out 10,000 meals, working round the clock, sleeping on the floor and even Grandma came in to help.  Now that’s what I call food security in tough times!

Just as our program ended, we raced across town to watch Elizabeth Kucinich’s film, “OMG GMO”, which is a lighthearted look at a very serious topic: is it safe to feed our kids genetically engineered food?


Farmer John and farmer-veteran, Rick Covey in Virginia

John Wilson calls himself a “soil farmer and bacteria herder.”  The man is a born teacher about soil science and growing organic food — and he’s been teaching veterans (three so far) what he knows. John is currently working with a scientist from NASA and is building this kiln for turning wood into biochar – an element that captures carbon and will store it in the soil for hundreds of years.  Ground up biochar in the soil apparently also makes nifty little condos for all the good bacteria and beneficial microbial beings that are the lifeblood of soil nutrition for plants.  So John is taking loads of scrap wood that would otherwise go to landfill, and is making biochar for his New Earth Farm.  Go John.

John introduced us to one of his “students”, Navy veteran Rick Covey.  Rick was working for a defense contractor when he started visiting John’s farm with his wife to buy vegetables. He started asking John questions, then helping out and the next thing you know … he and his wife sold off everything and moved to a farm in West Virginia Appalachia. He was the first organic farmer in the Scottish community. Five years later, there are 60 organic farmers in a co-op together.  John and Rick spoke at our recent Virginia Beach screening.

We also had Bridget Ruiz, from the film, join us in a Virginia screening.  She and Coleman and their boys moved up to Maryland, after training with Farmer John, and have a small landholding of 6 acres.  They call themselves “mini-farmers” because they’ve only got  a couple of large raised beds and two hoop houses. But they feed about 4 or 5 families – which is nothing to sneeze at. Farmer John thinks it’s a viable model for small urban farmers who aren’t relying on it as their main income. Start small, build tilth.


Veteran Resources page on the website

We’ve gathered helpful information for veterans who want to consider a career in sustainable agriculture:


Help us plan the Midwest Film & Farms Tour for this summer!

We’re beginning to plan a road trip throughout the Midwest this summer, doing benefit screenings for veteran farms along the way.  We want to work with all of you to make it spectacular — featuring events with delicious food and great people who support local food systems wherever we go.  Join us!

The route includes Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana thus far, with a possibility of Minnesota & others.
Let us know about cool venues where we could show the film. Suggest community groups, veteran and Ag organizations, foodies that we should invite to join us. (Sponsors always welcome. Proposal available.)
Send all ideas to:

Learn more about the Midwest Film and Farms Tour

“Veterans need real options when they are coming back, they don’t need programs or some pamphlets or a little bit of counseling. They need options that are going to allow them to take care of their families, pay their bills, and start a new life!” – Phil Northcutt, US Marine Corp
Ground Operations: Battlefields to Farmfields is a documentary film and social action campaign that champions combat veterans who are becoming sustainable farmers, ranchers and artisan food producers. Our goal is to strengthen the veterans-in-agriculture network and increase their resources, so that they can create healthy new lives for themselves and delicious food security for us all.

America needs a million new farmers. Veterans want the job!

Visit to learn more


Upcoming Events




Port Townsend Community Screenings




5:30 – 7:30pm
Farmer Veteran Coalition & Ground Ops Celebration




Midwest Film & Farms Tour – Dates Coming Soon!



Screening Events

Ground Operations combines delicious food, local veterans speaking and a film screening. We’re raising funds to support the national network of vets in sustainable farming, ranching & artisan food production.

Visit to Learn More or Register!



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