Veterans Grow New Careers in Agriculture


Farmer-veteran Sara Creech, proper, studys about goat well being care at NCAT’s 2013 Armed to Farm teaching in Fayetteville, Ark. (photograph by R. Metzger.)

Sara Creech, an Air Strain veteran, has been farming in Indiana since 2012, and says she knew from The start that she needed her farm to be licensed pure. She’s Definitely one of Greater than 350,000 veteran or lively-obligation service members involved in farming Inside the U.S. (2017 USDA Ag Census). She’s additionally One of many lots of of farmer veterans Who’ve fulld the Armed to Farm teaching program developed by the Nationwide Center for Relevant Know-how (NCAT).


NCAT’s Armed to Farm

Armed to Farm is a sustainable agriculture teaching program for army veterans. NCAT, a national nonprofit group based mostly in Howeverte, Mont., organized The primary Armed to Farm teaching by way of a Starting Farmer and Rancher Enchancment Enterprise with the College of Arkansas. This method has expanded over the previous eight years with assist from a cooperative settlement with USDA-Rural Enchancment.

Since launching the program in 2013, our guiding goals have been:

  • To practice veterans and their companions To function sustainable crop and livestock enterprises.
  • To create a internetwork of veterans and their households Who’re startning careers in sustainable agriculture.
  • To current technical assist to particular persons as They start and enhance their farming operations.

Over the previous eight years, Armed to Farm has assisted Greater than 800 veterans from 45 states with palms-on and classroom studying alternatives. Farmer veterans Uncover strategies to make a Advertising method and market their merchandise, set enterprise goals and develop lasting mentorships with seasoned farmers. Participants meet recurrentatives from USDA enterprisees, collectively with the Farm Service Agency, Natural Assets Conservation Service and the Small Industry Administration’s Small Industry Enchancment Facilities. They Uncover strategies to entry farm packages for assist with enterprise development and enhancing farm infrastructure.


Excursions and Training

The teaching additionally options farm tours and palms-on actions at Pretty a Little bit of worthwhile farms, A pair of of That are veteran-personaled. Participants study from seasoned farmers and obtain direct expertise on livestock, vegetable, fruit and agritourism operations.
Armed to Farm now provides three teaching collection:

  • Flagship, weeklong palms-on and classroom teaching For mannequin spanking new farmer veterans.
  • Armed to Metropolis Farm’s weeklong teaching focuses on veterans Who’re new farmers in urban spaces.
  • Armed to Farm 2.0 is superior sustainable agriculture teaching designed for farmer veterans Who’ve fulld a earlier weeklong session. This teaching currents in-depth curriculum on Advertising methodning, monetary administration, marketing and scaling-up manufacturing. We tailor palms-on actions at space farms to particular persons’ wants and Think about extra superior manufacturing, marketing and entrepreneurship methods.

Farmer veterans who full One of many teaching collection primarytain related to their friends And typically develop shut ties to fullly different farmers. The Armed to Farm program additionally currents alternatives for in-particular person and digital veteran internetworking occasions As properly as to restricted scholarships for veterans to attend agricultural conferences and teachings launched by fullly different groups.

Armed to Farm instructional alternatives proceed after the weeklong teachings with internetinars, podcasts and fullly different on-line resources currentd by way of NCAT’s ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture Program. The ATTRA program has constructed a trusted information base Over the previous 30 years on every thing from livestock, horticulture and agronomy to marketing and farm power.

Sara Creech, left, leads an Armed to Farm teaching group on a tour of her Indiana farm in 2019 (photograph by R. Metzger.)

The ATTRA internet website hosts Greater than 500 farmer-nice publications on agricultural manufacturing and marketing, plus internetinars, tutorials, movies, podcast episodes and extra. The internet website consists of An in depth part on pure farming. This multimedia information base Is out there free on-line, and our staff members are On A daily Basis out there to current one-on-one technical assist. To contact our agriculture specialists, farmers can:

Name ATTRA at 800-346-9140 (English) or 800-411-3222 (Spanish)

E-mail or textual content material Inquiries to [email protected]

Submit questions by way of our internet website chat area at ATTRA.NCAT.ORG

Why Veterans Choose Agriculture

Through the years, we’ve found that veterans are drawn to farming For A lot of causes. They discover satisfaction in drawback-fixing and overcoming the challenges of farming, being Their very personal boss and offering assist and employment for fullly different veterans. Many veterans Are additionally drawn to farming as a Outcome of working outdoors with crops or animals, and feeding healthful meals to their households and communities, assists them Deal with submit-traumatic stress dysfunction (PTSD) and fullly different end outcomes of being deployed.

As Creech said currently, “Farming Is usually A method To make the most of nature as remedy.”

Research and anecdotal proof current farming has confirmed therapeutic worth. Anfullly different Armed to Farm alumna, an Air Strain veteran, farmer and doctor at Walter Reed Hospital, prescribes gardening and farming to her sufferers and has seen constructive end outcomes.

Veterans make good farmers as a Outcome of They do not Appear to be afraid of exhausting work or setagains. They’re not deterred when issues go incorrect, and in farming, issues On A daily basis go incorrect! However when veterans encounter an impediment, they shortly reassess, formulate A mannequin new plan and Adjust to by way of. The mission mindset they honed all by way of army service Is An excellent asset for farming. Furtherly They’ve an entrepreneurial spirit. Many veterans pursue not Simply one or two farming enterprises, However in addition produce worth-added merchandise and have inventive farm enterprise ideas.


One Veteran’s Story

Although Creech had no farming expertise when she moved to her place again in 2012, You’d by no means guess it seeing her farm right now. NCAT’s Armed to Farm Program Director Margo Hale And that i had the privilege of visiting Sara’s operation two years in the past, Blue Yonder Organic Farm. With assist from Creech, Together with the Farmer Veteran Coalition, Indiana and AgrAbility, we hosted an Armed to Farm teaching in Crawfordsville, Ind. in 2019. We spent a sunny Might afternoon with A gaggle of round 20 veterans touring Creech’s farm and studying from her expertises.

Blue Yonder Organic Farm is a picturesque 43-acre diversified farm about an hour west of Indianapolis. Creech produces licensed pure hen, beef and lamb As properly as to licensed pure greens. As properly as, she sells eggs, honey, mushrooms and maple syrup. She sells her merchandise by way of farmer’s markets And a few contract rising.

In a current podcast interview with Margo, Creech shared that the staff from her native Natural Assets Conservation Service (NRCS) service center have been key allies in her farm’s transformation. Although That they had by no means labored with an pure producer earlier than, they have been excited To assist her construct the farm. Through the NRCS EQIP program, Creech has constructed two extreme tunnels that assist shield her crops and extend the rising season. She additionally has participated in NRCS fencing And huge-acre pollinator planting packages. Creech credit the USDA Organic Certification Value Share Program with serving to make certifying her farm extra fairly priced.

It is inspiring to have watched Creech progress from a startning farmer in 2013 when she attended our very first Armed to Farm teaching in Fayetteville, Ark. to a worthwhile farmer and seasoned mentor practiceing A mannequin new cohort of farmer veterans. And Creech Is merely Definitely one of many Armed to Farm alumni discovering and sharing their ardour and objective in farming. As agriculture educators, We truly couldn’t ask for extra.


Further Information

Learn extra about Armed to Farm at ARMEDTOFARM.ORG; there, You will Have The power To hitch our listserv, Be a part of email alerts or Adjust to our Fb Website To Sustain a correspondence and Research Armed to Farm information, occasions and resources.

ATTRA Podcasts that consists of Armed to Farm alumni: Forty Years Later, Mr. Burch is Back on the Farm; Veterans Converse about USDA Programs; Veteran Tells Dusty Hound Story; Veteran Helps Veterans Learn to Farm; From “Shovel and Rototiller” to Conservation Champ; and Camaraderie at Armed to Farm. ATTRA.NCAT.ORG

NCAT Northeast Regional Director Andy Pressman, left, leads A gaggle practice on complete-farm planning Through the 2019 Armed to Metropolis Farm in Cleveland, Ohio (photograph by M. Hale.)