Photo: Farmer-Veteran Coalition
Here's an agricultural trend we can all get behind. Combat veterans are making the transition to civilian life by way of farming, reports Cooking Up A Story. Even better, they're not being asked to hoe that row on their own. Groups like California's Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training program; Nebraska's Combat Boots to Cowboy Boots program and the California-based Farmer Veteran Coalition are providing training, funding and support to get veterans back on the land that they fought to protect.
"This is an excellent path for veterans," says Weldon Sleight, dean of University of Nebraska's College of Technical Agriculture (NCTA). "There are huge numbers of veterans that come from rural communities -- 17 percent of the U.S. population is rural, yet 45 percent of the military come from those communities."
The problem, he says, is that there are few economic opportunities in rural America, and many veterans end up in urban cities.
"They don't know how to go home, so we teach them that," said Sleight.
NCTA works with veterans to develop a business plan and assist with low-interest loans that will get them started on a 100-beef-cow operation; a 100-acre program for farming, or a business program to help veterans establish small businesses in rural communities. The program currently supports six students, but Sleight says they're ready and hoping to attract 50 veterans by this fall.
Colin Archipley of Archi's Acres, who has partnered with MiraCosta College, told the New York Times that farming offers veterans a chance to decompress and provides a sense of purpose. "It allows them to be physically active, be part of a unit. It gives them a mission statement -- a responsibility to the consumer eating their food."
His six-week course teaches sustainable agriculture methods, including hydroponics, and has an emphasis on organics.
"Farming is one of the 10 best green jobs out there," Archipley told the North County Times. "Organic farming is still growing, even though the rest of the economy is down."
Cooking Up A Story also pointed us to a documentary in progress by Dulanie M. Ellis. Watch the trailer if you'd like to know more.