Military Veteran's Who Farm - at Southern SAWG Conference

Military Veterans Who Farm: Finding Each Other Means Finding the Missing Mission and Community. 

January 30, 2017  /  Rona Roberts

"Read Tribe."   Heads nodded all over the room when two military veterans from Texas-based Farmers Assisting Returning Military—FARM—made that suggestion to a full room at Southern SAWG's annual gathering in Lexington last week. I immediately reserved one of the copies available in many formats at the wonderful Lexington Public Library

Tribe's subtitle: "On Homecoming and Belonging." FARM's tagline: "The power of community." The tagline of North Carolina-based Veterans Healing Farm: "Cultivating Life Through Community."

John Mahsie, an Air Force vet who founded Veterans Healing Farm, told the group, "Getting out of the military leaves two big gaps: a loss of community and a loss of mission. And society is not all that patient with people who are trying to figure things out."  For the two veterans with FARM, the cost of those losses include 11 suicides among the returned veterans in their unit.

Around the country veterans are finding a new mission and new community in the demanding work of farming, growing food, and feeding others. The Farmer Veterans Coalition is a national nonprofit group working in support of veterans in agriculture. The FVC includes Homegrown by Heroes, a marketing program the Kentucky Department of Agriculture launched that now operates in many states.  


John Mahsie, Founder

John Mahsie, Founder

Early Bird Fees Through Tomorrow!

Have you registered for a Field Trip or Mini Course yet? The registration fees will go up slightly after tomorrow. Are you thinking about using less machinary, then you might be interested in this Field Trip. (We also have a short course on using more machines, more creatively!)

Field Trip #2 Permanent Culture: Creating a Commercial Permaculture Farm

Want to grow for market without outside resources or petroleum-based inputs? To grow no-till crops without herbicides or mechanization? To make degraded land fertile & productive? Can one live entirely off the grid and make a living using permaculture? What is permaculture?

An excellent opportunity for those interested in seeing permaculture in practice, Salamander Springs Farm is quite different from most farms. Featured in the internationally-acclaimed 2015 permaculture documentary film, "INHABIT," 

Susana Lein is a pioneer in farm-scale permaculture. Built from scratch with local materials, the farm operates totally off-grid with few outside inputs, gravity-feed spring water, small solar electric system, and a passive-solar tiny house. Lein's grain and dry bean fields use a no-till system of continuous cover plus poultry forage, inspired by the late Japanese rice farmer, Masanobu Fukuoka. "3-Sisters" cornfields also produce pole beans and winter squash, a system learned during her eight years in Latin America. Learn permaculture practices used to transform extremely poor non-agricultural land into healthy, high-yielding soil, including contour swales, intensively-cropped beds and Hugelkultur practices.

Salamander Springs Farm produces a wide range of vegetables, fruits, nuts, herbs, forest foods and flowers for local farmers’ markets, local and online stores and her CSA. See farm website and photo site for more info. (This field trip heads to the beautiful Appalachian foothills, one hour travel time each way.)


Conference Field Trips Fill Up Fast!

I'm studying the Conference Field Trips to decide which one to register and plan for. There are six this year, so i'll list them out one by one here. Check our website conference pageto see all the descriptions. Space is limited, so register early. Pre-registration is strongly recommended. And please note that these field trips are being offered at the same time as the mini courses.

Field Trip #1 = Feeding Students: A Collegiate Ag Program Nourishing Mind and Body - Berea College Farm and Farm Store

What does it look like to train students in agriculture from seed to store? Have you wondered how an institution might transition to using locally sourced products? What does it take to build a commercial processing facility to supply that institution? How many acres of corn do you need to feed hungry college students?

Farmers Market at Berea College Farm

Farmers Market at Berea College Farm

The Berea College Farm is one of the oldest continuously operating student educational farms in the United States. Its enterprises currently include beef cattle, hogs, poultry, goats, field crops, horticultural crops, honey bees, and aquaculture. Much of the cropland is USDA certified organic and the farm maintains animal-welfare certifications on several of the livestock enterprises. In 2013 the college opened a campus farm store in a renovated building located on the edge of campus, adjacent to farm. It’s equipped with a kitchen and meat-processing room and offers foods produced by students working on the farm as well as products from nearby farms and small businesses in the central Appalachian Region and throughout Kentucky. The farm also regularly supplies pork, beef, eggs and fresh produce to the campus dining hall.