Thursday, February 10, 2011

"Red, White and Blueberries"

“One thing I’ve noticed about agriculture is that you become a creator rather than a destroyer.”
- Mike Hanes, 34, Former Marine, Veteran for Sustainable Agriculture

Just Saying has received more than a dozen reader emails about Patricia Leigh Brown's New York Times article: Helping Soldiers Trade Their Swords for Plows. If you haven't read it, we urge you to do so. And if we haven't responded to your email individually, please know that we deeply appreciate and admire the sentiment as well as the multiple battlefield-to-farm transition programs popping up nationwide.

In short, Brown's article highlights the need for strength, vigor and commitment in farming and the potential for finding it in veterans seeking employment and, well... peace. Colin Archipley, a decorated Marine Corps infantry sergeant turned organic farmer who developed Archi's Acres with his wife, works with Camp Pendleton's transition assistance program teaching planting and irrigating as well as business plan preparation. The University of Nebraska's College of Technical Agriculture is now offering a new program for veterans called: Combat Boots to Cowboy Boots.

Many soldiers are accustomed to working outdoors, find comfort in doing so, and come from rural backgrounds to begin with. Everything about this movement warms my heart yet nothing I am writing today is doing it justice. Perhaps my time would be better spent lobbying for such a program at the University of Maryland and yours would be better spent with the New York Times article.

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