The Armed to Farm: Sustainable Agriculture Training for Military Veterans program is an initiative to provide training in sustainable agriculture to military veterans. The program is offered free of charge by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). The latest week-long training was recently offered in California for the first time at Glide Ranch in Davis.
“We were amazed. We had 57 applicants, we only can accept 30 just given the size of the classroom and tours and things…due to the amount that we received we definitely would like to have another one in California,” said Thea Rittenhouse, Sustainable Agriculture Specialist with NCAT.
Rittenhouse noted that the Armed to Farm program has been going on for five years, providing training on various aspects of farming to military veterans who may be interested in beginning a farm, or who have been farming for less than 10 years. “Many veterans were saying farming is a great fit for them, so we just went with our instincts on that and have had a lot of success in these trainings,” Rittenhouse said.
The program is designed to provide an in-depth introduction to all facets of farming. There are workshops focused on soil and pest management, along with presentations on the business and financial side of farming. Participants also get hands-on training in the fields of active farming operations. “What we were trying to do is really give the participants an idea to see all the different possibilities and really understand better the day-to-day, on-the-ground management things that they might encounter as a farm business owner,” said Rittenhouse.
Many of the veterans in the program expressed a specific interest in sustainable and organic farming practices to be used in small-scale production. “Many of our applicants this time really were passionate about not using chemicals or using less chemicals, or really farming with the land and doing something that worked with the environment…we also had a lot of veterans that were really wanting to feed their communities,” Rittenhouse concluded.
Listen to Rittenhouse’s interview below.