News from the Farmer-Veteran Coalition:
I am sending this e-mail to you because you know me and you know my commitment to a sustainable food and farming system. Recently, I accepted the position of Deputy Director for the Farmer Veteran Coalition, a nascent non-profit with amazing potential to address some of our country’s most pressing issues.
This organization is off to an good start. The executive director, Michael O’Gorman, has been farming for over 40 years and is a passionate and visionary man. In February, we became a project of Community Partners (www.CommunityPartners.org), based in Los Angeles. This fiscal sponsor is a perfect fit for us, and they are as glad to have us on board as we are to be working with them. The new arrangement insures that FVC is politically neutral, that our donations are tax-deductible and that we benefit by the guidance and oversight of their experience and talent.
This month, we opened our national office at 221 G Street, Suite 204, Davis, CA. 95616. Basing our project in Davis, home of one of our country’s top agricultural universities and in the midst of the Central Valley is exciting for us.
More inspiring than all of these steps forward is the demand for our services from returning veterans.
This last week we placed Sam, a young man who had been corresponding with us during his last six months of active service. He knew he wanted to farm but recently decided he was interested in learning viticulture. Within a week of coming home we placed him at a well-paying job with Bacchus Vineyard Management in Santa Rosa. He’s driving the tractor, doing well, and his boss says he would like to hire a second vet. We’ll also be introducing him to the two year viticulture program at Santa Rosa Jr. College. Sam’s our third vet to be placed on a farm in the North Bay this month.
We’ve also begun working with injured vets in different parts of the country.
Justin, a young Marine had an IED blow up on him in Iraq but he doesn’t want his injuries to keep him from taking over his parents’ dairy farm in upstate New York. First, he wants to improve efficiency on the farm with liquid manure storage, so he won’t have to spread manure every day like his parents do. He has a lot of other ideas to make his work easier and to help his family farm thrive.
Adam got hit by shrapnel in his hip and his head. He is classified as 100% disabled but chooses to farm. In fact, he’s developing a blueberry farm in Central Florida where he and his wife both grew up on family farms. Adam is planting high-bush berry varieties above ground, in 30 gallon containers, and making it accessible, so that other injured vets can help him with his harvest.
You can listen to a report on the Farmer Veteran Coalition from KQED’s California Report. Check out the slide show and it will also give an audio link.
At our website, www.farmvetco.org , you’ll find a link to another of our vets who was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered. And if you’re able to help us out at this critical time in our growth you can donate at our website or by a check payable to Community Partners ‘fbo’ Farmer-Veteran Coalition, sent to our Davis address. We know how tight money is these days so Michael and I are designing a lean organization, long on help for these young men and women but short on overhead and staff.