Swords to plowshares: Vets train for sustainable agriculture careers
According to the USDA, half of all US farmers will likely retire in the next decade. You might expect recruitment of new farmers to occur with organizations like the Future Farmers of America, or the 4H Club (and it is)… but the military? Yep… numerous programs around the country are targeting veterans for training in sustainable agriculture.
According to Michael O’Gorman, the founder of the Farmer-Veteran Coalition, veterans returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan are near-ideal recruits: not only are many of them returning home to a tough employment environment, but veterans are much more likely to come from rural communities. And a number of vets turned farmers see a lot of similarities between combat and agriculture: Colin Archipley, a Marine veteran who now runs a training program at his Archi’s Acres farm in California, tells the New York Times “In the military, grunts are the guys who get dirty, do the work and are generally underappreciated… I think farmers are the same.”
Know of a returning veteran that might be interested in such an opportunity? The Farmer-Veteran Coalition lists several California-based programs. The University of Nebraska’s Combat Boots to Cowboy Boots also offers similar training. And the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service keeps a database of internship and apprenticeship opportunities. And take a look at the video above, in which one veteran share his experience transitioning to farming.
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