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:


Categories: Veteran Fields

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