Veterans to Farmers SLV
Military service comes in many forms. Veterans’ service is as diverse as their faces.
From World Wars to the Middle East; from musicians to direct combat. Every story
has its ending…some good, some bad, some traumatic and all heroic.
Jayne Salisbury of the Women’s Veterans of the San Luis Valley estimates there are
approximately 5,000 veterans who have served our country in the San Luis Valley
and 10 percent of them are women. Richard Nagley, founder of the Veterans
Coalition of the San Luis Valley and their very busy Director of Veteran’s Affairs
Often a released soldier’s experiences leave them floundering to use their special
skills in a civilian world. The Women’s Veterans, the Veterans Coalition of the San
Luis Valley, the San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition, Conejos Clean Water, the Food
Bank Network of the San Luis Valley and Adams State University Community
Partnerships have come together to create opportunity for veterans of every walk of
life to give a different but equal service – to join the farmers that produce the food
for our nation.
The Colorado Health Foundation is behind this effort all the way. Their new CEO,
Karen McNeil Smith who is a strategic impact-driven leader with years of
philanthropic experience, came to the SLV in early 2016 looking for community
driven initiatives. The San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition and Veterans Coalition
responded to the offer and found itself generously funded in a Veterans-led project
to create Veteran Farming opportunities in this agricultural-rich Valley we call
Partners met Wednesday to organize and plan 2017 activities that will include field
trips to highly-functioning Veterans to Farmers projects in the country, bringing in
veterans who have taken on farming to hear their stories, gathering Veterans in the
San Luis Valley and beyond who are interested in agricultural opportunities and
offering the Rio Grande Farm Park Farmer Incubation Program, the Conejos Clean
Waters’s Valleybound garden as well as the Value-added agricultural opportunity
for entrepreneurs in the Valley Roots Food Hub licensed commercial kitchen.
Veteran Jen Ballentine has long dreamed of the “Pay it Forward” Veterans to
Farmers turnkey Greenhouse training and subsequent greenhouse award program
in Denver. This program allows a veteran to experience a greenhouse intensive
management and education program that provides a fully furnished aquaponics
greenhouse at the end of the program. The Veterans responsibility in addition to
making a viable greenhouse production business is to share what she has learned
and to make the greenhouse available to other Veterans to learn as well.
To get involved in this important project, please click the button below: