New organization helps veterans become farmers

In the most recent installment of the San Francisco Chronicle’s excellent Food Conscious series, Janet Fletcher writes about the Farmer-Veteran Coalition, a new Bay Area-based organization that helps veterans in rural areas find employment in farming. Matt McCue is one example: a former infantry soldier who served in Iraq, he is now the manager of the French Garden farm in Sebastopol, California. McCue finds that farming is helping him adjust to civilian life: “I think a lot of the depression in the military spawns from not having a purpose. What is your life going to be defined by? In the military, if you get into an altercation, your life is defined by tragedy. My life is defined by growing and harvesting things, and there’s a lot to be said for that.”

On their website, the Coalition lists several reasons why a soldier-to-farmer program is important: rural communities lack jobs (one reason they have a higher enlistment rate), and the nation needs more young farmers. With the recent increased interest in supporting local food networks across the country, perhaps those who make the leap into the difficult business of farming will find economic success.

The Farmer-Veteran Coalition website has a list of additional press coverage, as well as numerous links to other programs around the country that are helping veterans through farm training and gardening projects.

2 Responsesto “New organization helps veterans become farmers”

  1. Anastasia says:

    Thanks for passing this news along. Being a veteran myself, I’m extremely happy to hear of new ways for vets to get back into society after deployment. On a related topic, have you heard of the work US farmers in the National Guard have been doing in Afghanistan?Basically, US farmers in the Guard have been helping farmers in Afghanistan move back to regular crops instead of poppies. It’s not as big as it could be, but it takes time for the Army to try out new ideas. There are a lot of news stories about it, but these are a bit more in depth: 1 and  2
    Oh, while I am commenting – I was wondering if you guys had seen Tomorrow’s Table by Pamela Ronald and Raoul Adamchak. The genetic engineer and organic farmer duo think we need to expand our ideas of sustainable agriculture in order to feed the world and protect the environment. I’ve been looking forward to reading your thoughts about it :)

  2. Emily says:

    I wonder if vets retrained as farmers would have more of an “in” with the “old guard” farmers? I know in my area, most of the long-time farmers view most of the new farmers as know-nothing “hippies” and aren’t too keen to share their wealth of knowledge. Maybe if they relate better veterans, we’ll lose less of that amazing build up of know-how?