“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.” Masanobu Fukuoka –
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 provide 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, and service before self. It has also been proven to provide therapeutic benefits for many types of trauma, including PTSD and TBI.
- We seek out partnerships with established farms that provide many different training and employment opportunities for our veteran graduates.
- Our program also connects veterans to necessary resources, such as further training opportunities, veteran-related grant opportunity, business development classes, and a strong, welcoming community. VTF mentors are always available to graduates free of charge as consultants for future agriculture endeavors.
- Even if the veteran is not looking to take on an agricultural business endeavor, we are happy to provide them a healthy space to learn and grow in. At a minimum, the graduate will have learned how to grow clean and healthy food for themselves and their family.
- VTF believes that every veteran has an opportunity for a “Second Service”. To reach out and actively support their veteran family where they best can. Our graduates are strongly encouraged to teach, support, and lend a hand to fellow veterans. We work on the belief that with enough of us answering that call we can make a notable difference.
Colorado State University
To increase success for our veteran 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. VTF graduates who are serious about “going into business” have to apply for this program separately, but are given preference and scholarship opportunities.
Denver Botanic Gardens – Chatfield Farms
Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms (DBG) is a historical 700-acre native plant refuge and working farm located along the banks of Deer Creek in southern Jefferson County. As well DBG has been a national leader in innovative ways to engage and educate the community about all things plant related. We were honored to work alongside them to create a truly unique experience for our veterans, an opportunity to see if the farm life is for you! During the summer season, we offer 2 classes that are 10 weeks long in “In-Soil Agriculture”. Veterans will explore during that every aspect and skill it takes to grow nutritious and local food in Colorado’s challenging soil. This class is instructed by Jamie Wickler, Farm Educator for DBG and truly a veteran farmer’s best friend.
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 aquaponics greenhouse, experiential gardens for children, horticultural therapy gardens, emergency food assistance and food rescue and a farmers market. We were so impressed with them we had to have our veterans learning here! VTF offer 8-week long courses at the greenhouse in “Controlled Agriculture-Aquaponics.” The class is instructed by Loki Jones, graduate from our very first class.
Rebel Farm – Denver, CO
Rebel Farm is a local hydroponic greenhouse farm, producing fresh greens and herbs year round for the Denver restaurant industry. They are also one of our longest and most supportive partners; truly an asset to the veteran community. VTF offer 8-week long courses in “Controlled Agriculture-Hydroponics” per year. The class is instructed by VTF graduate and all-star Joe Burner.
Upstart University (Online Resource)
Upstart University was created with the mission of educating and empowering farmers around the world. They started with a small team, a makeshift video studio, a single course, and a vision. Now, they have over 30 courses, a growing team, over 850 active members from 55 countries around the world, and they have successfully helped over 100 aspiring farmers launch their farms and start selling. They offer our veterans a 10% discount on all course.
In 2009, United States Marine Corps veteran Buck Adams established Circle Fresh Farms, starting with a 12,000 square ft greenhouse and turning it into a 12 farm collaborative with a total of 5 acres of greenhouse within 3 years. Circle Fresh becoming the largest organic greenhouse grower in Colorado at that time. In 2011, he established a company initiative to train and hire fellow veterans. After employing a few veterans to learn in the greenhouse environment, word spread. Before he knew it there where many eager veterans willing to learn. Adams realized that the interest from veterans was much greater than anticipated and as a result, Veterans to Farmers was formed in 2013.
In 2014 Veterans to Farmers Co-Founder and Program Director, Richard Murphy began working tirelessly on the development of the VTF training program. After working closely with Buck Adams and partnering with established educators like CSU’s Extension Offices and Denver Botanic Gardens, VTF was ready to plant its first seeds. All the hard work and dedication paid off, by the summer of 2014 VTF was training its first veteran farmers!
In 2017, after instructing countless hours and mentoring over 100 veteran graduates Richard took on the role as Executive Director for Veterans to Farmers when Buck stepped down. Richard has been an enthusiastic advocate for veteran support and local food security, he can often be found speaking at veteran and agricultural events across the state. Under his leadership, VTF plans to continue to train and grow their veteran family one farmer at a time.