Veteran Grown, Veteran Owned
Resources for our men and women in uniform are often difficult to attain and navigate through when they return to civilian life. What was once their home can seem as foreign as the lands they are returning from. Without the regimented and structured discipline they grew to depend on, re-assimilating can be extremely difficult.
Couple this with physical injuries and mental health issues, and the picture can be startlingly bleak.
Veterans to Farmers offers opportunities for these men and women who have sacrificed so much to be our protectors. Our curriculum and community provides ways to recover, learn, and move forward by becoming our providers, contributing to the solution of our aging farmer problem and food insecure nation:
- Farming utilizes many of the same skills required in the military—hard work, attention to detail, etc—and has been proven to provide therapeutic benefits to many types of trauma, including PTSD.
- Partnering with established farms provides many different training opportunities for our veterans.
- Our program also connects veterans to necessary resources, such as further training opportunities, veteran-related grants, business development classes, and a strong, welcoming community. VTF mentors are always available to graduates free of charge as consultants for future agriculture endeavors.
- VETERANS TO FARMERS OFFERS VETERANS A WAY TO RECOVER, TO LEARN, AND TO MOVE FORWARD BY BECOMING OUR PROVIDERS, CONTRIBUTING TO THE SOLUTION OF OUR FOOD INSECURE NATION
Colorado State University
To increase success for our veterans’ trainees, The Building Farmers Course by CSU explores farming as a business and to receive managerial tools and ideas for starting an agriculture company. This has been a key part of VTF’s early program participants training. There are no similar training programs for veterans available in Colorado or any of the bordering states.
Denver Botanic Gardens – Chatfield Farms
Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms is a 700-acre native plant refuge and working farm located along the banks of Deer Creek in southern Jefferson County. During the summer season we offer 2 classes that are 10 weeks long with 10 students each class. Veterans expressed decompression of the agriculture environment, and consistently wanted to keep farming, even when the program workday had come to a close.
Mental Health Center Denver – Dahila Campus Farm & Colorado Aquaponics
The Dahlia Campus Farms and Gardens is a collaborative approach to growing and educating community members about food. The Dahlia Campus Farms and Gardens includes a one-acre urban farm, a 5,400 square foot aquaponic greenhouse, experiential gardens for children, horticultural therapy gardens, emergency food assistance and food rescue and a farmers market. We offer 5, 10-week courses at the greenhouse in partnership with CO Aquaponics, each class consists of 3 students.
Rebel Farm – Denver, CO
Rebel Farm is a local hydroponic greenhouse farm, producing fresh greens and herbs year round for the local restaurant and catering industry. We offer 5 8-week courses with 6 students per class.
Upstart University was created with the mission of educating and empowering farmers around the world. We started with a small team, a makeshift video studio, a single course, and a vision. Now, we have over 30 courses, a growing team, over 850 active members from 55 countries around the world, and we have successfully helped over 100 aspiring farmers launch their farms and start selling.
In 2009, United States Marine Corps veteran Buck Adams established Circle Fresh Farms, starting with a 12,000 square feet greenhouse into a 12 farm collaborative with a total of 5 acres of greenhouse within 3 years, becoming the largest organic greenhouse grower in Colorado. In 2011, he established a company initiative to train and hire fellow veterans. After successfully training 6 veterans, word spread about the program. With more than 300 eager participants, Adams realized that the interest from Veterans was much greater than he anticipated: Veterans to Farmers was formed.
After forming VTF, the organization has developed 4 Colorado State University (CSU) certified training programs, each of these offers a CSU certificate at graduation.
We exist to transform protectors into providers.
A 2012 survey conducted by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America found that a staggering 17% of veterans surveyed were unemployed. Veterans aged 18-24 experience the highest unemployment rates at 30.2%, which is nearly double that for non-veterans of the same age. (Memorial Day 2012: Combating High Unemployment Rates Among Young Veterans Report by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee Chairman’s Staff, Senator Bob Casey, Chairman).
Locally, Colorado’s average unemployment rate for veterans (from October 2013 through September 2014) is 7%, well above the non-veteran population’s average unemployment rate of 4.3%. More than half of the 231,100 veterans in Colorado’s labor force are veterans of Gulf Wars 1 and 2 (Colorado Department of Labor and Unemployment, 2014).
- Often, trauma experienced in the military causes severe and long-lasting problems.
– Common disorders associated with combat are acute stress disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and substance abuse.
– The impacts of trauma can carry over into civilian life, making it difficult to find and keep fulfilling employment
- Even apart from these hardships, many veterans have trouble translating their military experience into gainful work, and despite vocal commitments to hire Veterans.
- Farming utilizes many of the same skills required in the military – hard work, attention to detail, and teamwork.
- Farming has proven to provide therapeutic benefits, including reducing symptoms of PTSD. Working together in an intensive team environment with other veterans provides an ideal re-entry from active duty.