Sunday, February 06, 2011

"Helping Veterans Trade Their Swords for Plows"

In Helping Veterans Trade Their Swords for Plows,  Patricia Leagh Browne reports for the The New York Times on some amazing efforts to assist combat veterans readjust to civilian life and to develop new careers -  in sustainable and organic farming. The physical exercise, the discipline, the attention to detail, the commitment to the mission are all factors that naturally link their military service to the labor intensive and focused skills associated with organic and sustainable farming.  And, it allows them to "be a creator rather than a destoyer."

The article makes fascinating connections and reports on a variety of different programs.  All connect the needs of returning veterans with the need of the United States to replenish its aging workforce of farmers.  Half of our current farmers are expected to retire in the next decade.

Archi's Acres in describes itself on its website "as a pro-American and a pro-veteran company which created its Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training (VSAT) program to offer combat veterans meaningful employment opportunities in a high growth potential industry."  It uses a proprietary technology that it says consumes "up to 90% LESS water then convention agricultural systems."

Combat Boots to Cowboy Boots at the University of Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture is described as part of a "veteran-centric" farming operation.

The Farmer-Veteran Coalition, also described in the Times article, posted a video yesterday entitled "A Greater Mission" to document the problems experienced by veterans and the role that agricultural training can play.  It describes the transitions, connections, and rewards associated with the agricultural projects.  The coalition lists partners in the veterans-farming programs and provides links to their websites.

Critical to each of these programs is not simply a connection between the veterans and agriculture, but a focus on sustainable farming. The careful study of natural processes, the sustainable use of natural resources, and the application of the knowledge gained to increase the quality and quantity of production  -  therein lies the therapy and the satisfaction.  A slide show on the NYTimes website documents this in images.

It is my greatest hope that our agricultural policies will reward these efforts and the participating veterans by making sure that there is a place for them in our food system.


Anonymous Mary said...

I hope this would be successful for the benefits of our veterans who usually don't have anything on them after their service.

2/21/2011 4:56 PM  

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