Nearly a million military servicemen and servicewomen come from rural areas across the country. Upon returning from service they can use their great sense of service to benefit farms. Farming is also empowering, giving these servicemen and women a sense of accomplishment – truly seeing the fruits of their labor. The following programs work with veterans, creating opportunities for them to find meaningful careers in the farming and agriculture.
The Farmer Veteran Coalition uses food production as a means to offer purpose, opportunity, as well as physical and psychological benefits for veterans. A majority of the veterans the Coalition works with served recently in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the organization also serves military veterans of all eras and branches.
Veterans to Farmers operates with a goal to return the family farm to a prominent position on the American landscape. To do this they train and help American veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The organization specifically works with greenhouse agriculture. Their national training center is equipped and ready to teach aeroponic growing methods, greenhouse maintenance and construction, as well as business planning. The food grown at the training center is sold through a CSA. Upon completion of a 12-week training course, the organization helps veterans find employment and work with greenhouses.
Delaware Valley College’s veteran organic farming program was originally designed for veterans, but because of high demand is now also open to non-veterans too. The college’s program runs in conjunction with the Rodale Institute in Kutztown, Pa., and consists of a one-year, 36-credit certificate in organic farming. Courses include: animal science, marketing, plant disease diagnosis and entomology, as well as hands on farming experience at Rodale. The college is a Yellow Ribbon School, meaning that veterans who are eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill will have up to 100% of their tuition paid.
The Center for Rural Affairs’ Veteran Farmers Project offers training, individual help on finances and production, and a support helpline for veterans wishing to become farmers. The goal of the project is to create farm businesses that can tap into high value markets so that returning veterans can reintegrate into America’s rural communities. Last year the program held a 90-minute webinar that is available for viewing here. Additional videos that show a Marine veteran who operates a cattle business, and one that highlights Common Good Farm are also available here.