Battleground to Breaking Ground is doing just that for veterans who want to farm. The new program of workshops offered by Texas AgriLife Extension offers training and assistance to military veterans who are interested in a career in agriculture.
We learned about the program through a news story from Paul Schlattenberg at Texas A&M.
The workshops “enable veterans with or without disabilities to return to their rural areas with the opportunity of creating self-employment to support themselves and their families,” said Dr. Cheryl Grenwelge, a specialist in disability transition with AgriLife Extension.
Over 400 people have attended the workshops around the state.
Numerous resources were presented for veterans who were interested in farming. They included Texas AgrAbility, USDA Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Texas Department of Agriculture, Farmer Veteran Coalition, and others.
Veterans who were farming also shared their startup stories. Doug Haveman, an Army veteran, told how he received valuable assistance for his business plan to sell grass-fed beef. James Jeffers, an Army veteran with traumatic brain injury, had NRCS specialists visit his farm to “help with site planning and layout, erosion prevention, and crop selection.”
Workshop participants also met others like themselves, creating a network that could continue the learning and encouragement underlying the workshops.
“Soldiers always take care of other soldiers,” said Haveman, “and through this programming we can help each other.” Participants stay in touch through a special group set up on facebook.
We're very excited to learn of efforts to help beginning farmers in other locations. They mesh so well with the work we've done to help connect veterans who want to farm with the training and resources they need to be successful.
For national contacts or information on a similar program in Missouri for veterans who wish to farm, visit the Veteran Farmers Project page on our website.
Feature image: A large crowd of veterans interested in farming attend a workshop we helped sponsor in Missouri earlier this spring. Photo by Wyatt Frass.
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