Today is Veterans Day and Farm Aid thanks all the veterans who have served our country. In honor of their service, I want to introduce you to a group of veterans who are beginning new careers as farmers and growers of the Good Food Movement.
Not long after the Farm Aid concert in early October, we received an email from Michael O’Gorman, project director of the Farmer-Veteran Coalition (FVC). The FVC brought a group of veterans to St. Louis and mounted an excellent exhibit in our HOMEGROWN Village at the show. Reflecting on the experience, Michael wrote,
“Our group…included twenty two veterans—twenty of them post-9/11, fifteen who served in Iraq or Afghanistan or both, and fifteen of whom are pursuing careers in farming or the good food movement. It was a very powerful experience for these men and women to meet each other—some for the first time—and to feel part of a very unique group that shares such profound experience in common. Farm Aid was a wonderful experience for them to see young farmers treated as heroes—something they are both searching for and deserving of. And of course they all went absolutely berserk when Willie came on stage with our hat!!”
Willie and Farm Aid are proud to have hosted the Farmer-Veteran Coalition in St. Louis and honored to include the FVC as a member of our Farmer Resource Network. The FVC is a California-based non-profit organization whose long-term goal is creating 10,000 new farmers from the ranks of some two million returning post-9/11 veterans. This goal is not merely a pipe dream: rural Americans disproportionately over-populate the ranks of the military, representing roughly 65% of all service members. Fully committed to growing the good food movement and to the notion that nourishing the land helps nourish the soul, the FVC’s mission is “to mobilize our food and farming community to create healthy and viable futures for America’s veterans by enlisting their help in 1) building our green economy, 2) rebuilding our rural communities, and 3) securing a safe and healthy food supply”.
The FVC, which is explicitly non-political, welcomes all returning vets and connects them with help in employment, training, and replenishing their lives on America’s farms. In addition to working with veterans groups all over the country, the FVC is currently expanding its connections to new farmer training programs, building its mentoring program among established farmers and food industry professionals, and gathering resources to help veterans find financing for land or further education.