February 07, 2011 Many of our returning veterans have not had it easy in transitioning from the battlefield to new careers and home life back in the States. It’s good to read about several programs whose focus is to give veterans a chance to consider farming as a career and way of life.
After leaving the Marines in 2006, Colin Archipley went into farming and started Archi’s Acres with his wife, Karen. He recently partnered “with MiraCosta College to create a Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training program to give combat veterans and others entry into the high-growth organic industry.” The 6-week introductory course will be repeated throughout the 2011 spring.
The Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture (through the University of Nebraska) began Combat Boots to Cowboy Boots with the help of former Marine Garrett Dwyer. After taking courses at NCTA in order to return to his family’s cattle business, Dwyer approached the school about an idea. The result was a program that
“utilizes existing programs funded by the federal Department of Agriculture, Small Business Administration, Veterans Administration, Department of Defense, and various state and local agencies to create successful business succession plans that match participants with existing farm/business/ranch owners.”
Another is Farmer Veteran Coalition, founded by Michael O’Gorman. This Davis, CA, nonprofit seeks to connect “military veterans with opportunities for employment, training, and places to heal on America’s farms.”
“The military is not for the faint of heart, and farming isn’t either,” said Michael O’Gorman, an organic farmer who founded the nonprofit Farmer-Veteran Coalition, which supports sustainable-agriculture training. “There are eight times as many farmers over age 65 as under. There is a tremendous need for young farmers, and a big wave of young people inspired to go into the service who are coming home.”
Want to see the effect of such programs? Check out Dulanie M. Ellis’s documentary-in-progress “A Greater Mission“. It documents what is going on at the Farmer Veteran Commission. Hear the perspective of many veterans and meet those who are becoming our future farmers.
14 minute trailer: