The Los Angeles retreat will focus on urban farming, school gardens and the work being done to bring healthy food into the city’s food deserts. The group will initially gather on the evening of Thursday, March 24. The educational curriculum the next two days will include a tour of the city’s wholesale produce market, a culinary academy, urban farming and a chance to get hands in the dirt and help Teaching Garden, a Southern California based project that establishes edible gardens at many of the nation’s poorest schools.
“Our goal is to give veterans a new mission,” said FVC Director Michael O’Gorman, “and putting in these gardens for the children is a great way to learn and serve at the same time.”
The Arkansas retreat will be based around Fayetteville on May 20-22. This retreat and the ones in Iowa and Pennsylvania will be co-sponsored by NCAT (National Center for Appropriate Technology). This retreat will focus on sustainable poultry and small ruminant production (goats and sheep) but will include tours to area fruit and vegetable farms as well. The tours will be led by NCAT’s poultry expert and chicken farmer, Terell Spencer, who is also a combat veteran of the Iraq war.
The majority of funding for the Iowa retreat is coming from Blue River Hybrids, the country’s leading supplier of organic and non-GMO seed corn, soybeans and forages. The July 15-16 retreat, dubbed “Coming Home to Farm”, will be centered between Des Moines and Ames and will focus on organic and sustainable farming practices. Besides tours of organic and sustainable grain, vegetable, pork and wine production, classes will be given on how to become organically certified and how to turn production techniques into marketing advantage.
The fourth retreat will be held near Shavertown, Pennsylvania on August 20-21. Being located in the Southeast corner of the state, near large metropolitan areas, this retreat will focus on techniques to produce high yields and profitable farms off of limited acreage. NCAT staff will give a tour of their ‘SPIN’ project – “small plot intensive agriculture” – and tours of greenhouse, hydroponic and aquaponics production.
FVC hopes to add additional retreats later in the year and is working with groups in California, Washington State, Indiana and elsewhere to host one-day educational farm tours for veterans throughout the year. Veterans interested in attending any of these events or finding out about other services of the Farmer-Veteran Coalition are urged to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, check out our website, www.farmvetco.org and follow us on Face Book. We urge you to get involved!