About a month ago, I was in Odessa watching the parade at Deutschesfest, when I noticed a beautiful red tractor with a patriotic camouflaged hood and dual flags flying off the back. I didn't have a chance to speak with the driver, but snapped a picture to remember it by.
A couple of weeks later, I was in Rockford at the Southeast Spokane County Parade and I noticed it again. Afterwards I tracked them down and introduced myself. The group was Vets on the Farm, a program run by the Spokane Conservation District. I met the program Director, Vicki Carter, and committed to learning more about their work.
Today I visited their Learning Farm to learn about the work first hand, and let me say, I love this program! As described on their website, "Vets on the Farm is designed for Veterans seeking a new mission and a way to transition back into civilian life through careers in agriculture, farming, ranching or other conservation based industries. Our mission is to provide resources and opportunities for education, partnership, and employment to help reach that goal."
Think of the work as a small business incubator. Each veteran who participates will get access to both education and shared resources in order to be successful as they get a new agriculture-based endeavor off the ground. There is even the option to use 1/4 acre of land to exercise their new skills and begin to "grow" their new business. With the average farmer being over age 60, it will be critical that we raise up 1 million new farmers to replace them over the next 10 years. This new mission to keep America fed is just as important as the mission they had to keep us safe, and Vets on the Farm is leading the way through that transition!
This is a wonderful organization, with an important mission. If you have a family member or friend who is a veteran that may be interested in learning more, please have them go to the Vets on the Farm website for information. I encourage all to follow them on Facebook to keep up with their events to see how you may be able to support them. For our servicemen and women, many who have been to hell and back to defend our nation, this little farm must feel like a slice of heaven.