Armed to Farm: Sustainable Agriculture Training For Military Veterans

What is Armed to Farm?

Armed to Farm is Sustainable Agriculture Training For Military Veterans
Learn more about current opportunities, technical assistance, and online tutorials.

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Note: NCAT's Armed to Farm information is also available in PDF format for easy printing and sharing. Thank you!

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Veteran Resources

How Can NCAT Help You?

Farmers and ranchers are looking for reliable information on sustainable and organic agriculture, on how to get started in farming, on how to qualify for government programs that reward land stewardship and resource conservation, and on how to pursue such profitable niche markets as organic meats and grains or agriculture tourism. The answers to these and many other similar questions are available free from an NCAT program called ATTRA - Sustainable Agriculture.



Current Opportunities

  • July 29 - August 2, 2019 ~ Armed to Farm ~ Victor, New York ~ Apply Here!

Coming in 2019: Armed to Farm 2.0

Armed to Farm 2.0 is a next-level sustainable agriculture training designed for those who have attended an Armed to Farm in the past. ATF 2.0 will have more in-depth curriculum on business planning, financial management, marketing, and scaling-up production. We will tailor hands-on activities at area farms to participants' needs and will focus on more advanced production, marketing, and entrepreneurship techniques. There will be plenty of time for information sharing and networking. NCAT will provide lodging, most meals, and transportation to local farms during this week-long event.


Publications

ATTRA publications cover a wide range of topics, including:


Visit www.attra.ncat.org to view a complete list of our publications. Most are available to download in PDF format.


Tutorials

ATTRA offers free, online self-instruction courses to help beginning farmers and producers who want to diversify their operations or expand their markets. The courses include a variety of educational tools such as worksheets, narrated PowerPoint presentations, videos, and tip sheets.

 

Technical Assistance

ATTRA's friendly staff members are knowledgeable about livestock, horticulture, agronomy, organic farming, marketing, farm energy, and many other sustainable agriculture topics, and are available to provide free assistance. ATTRA offers several ways producers can contact an agriculture specialist, who will research questions and send the client a report, including sources of more information.

 

Website

In addition to over 300 publications, ATTRA's website contains webinars, videos, searchable databases, plus tools to keep you up-to-date on what's happening in sustainable agriculture:


What participants say about Armed to Farm training:

"This was one of the best workshops, if not the best, in any field I have been involved in. It was a great mix of hands-on and classroom instruction. The instructors were very experienced and knowledgeable."

"As a Wounded Warrior Project Alumni, two-time Iraq veteran, and beginning farmer I can, without hesitation, recommend the Armed to Farm program to any veteran seeking knowledge in a wide variety of agricultural topics."

"Thank you! I feel that this program has changed the way we will farm in the future."

Ann with goat Participants in the Armed to Farm training held in Jackson, Miss., Sept. 22-26, 2014.

What is Armed to Farm?

Armed to Farm is Sustainable Agriculture Training for Military Veterans.

NCAT has been involved in targeted veteran outreach and assistance since 2010. NCAT agriculture specialists have hosted and been involved in at least 17 veteran focused trainings, reaching over 800 veterans across the US.

NCAT has partnered with the USDA Agricultural Research Service, Farmer Veteran Coalition, University of Arkansas, Growing Warriors, and other sustainable agriculture organizations to train veterans interested in sustainable agriculture careers.

The goals of Armed to Farm are:

  • To train veterans and their partners to operate sustainable crop and livestock enterprises
  • To create a network of veterans and their families who are starting careers in sustainable agriculture
  • To provide technical assistance to participants as they start and improve their farming operations

Trainings range in length from conference presentations, two-day workshops, and week-long training events. The multi-day programs include a mix of educational classes— covering topics such as risk management, business planning, and marketing—and hands-on activities at successful livestock, crop, and agritourism operations.

NCAT Sustainable Agriculture specialists will teach the training sessions. Additional contributors will include staff from the University of Arkansas, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and experienced crop and livestock producers.

Contact Margo Hale at 479-442-9824 or margoh@ncat.org for more information about Armed to Farm

Please note:

  • Attendees are responsible for their travel to and from the event. Please let us know if travel cost is an issue.
  • Space is limited and NCAT reserves the right to select those people it deems would benefit most by this event.

Partners:

 

USDA logo ATTRA Logo

Funding for Armed to Farm has come from NCAT's ATTRA - Sustainable Agriculture program, USDA Rural Business Cooperative Services, USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, projects with the University of Arkansas and Cornell University, USDA Risk Management Agency and Swords to Plowshares.

 


 

Armed to Farm News

NCAT Southeast Hosts Inaugural Armed to Farm 2.0

NCAT Southeast Hosts Inaugural Armed to Farm 2.0

We held our first Armed to Farm 2.0 in Fayetteville, Arkansas, February 25-March 1, 2019. This training was open to veterans who had previously attended one of our Armed to Farm training events. We had a fantastic group of 18 participants, from 10 states, for the week. They represented nine Armed to Farm events from 2013-2018. The purpose of the 2.0 training is to bring the veterans together again for a more advanced-level training. While Armed to Farm provides a broad overview of many different sustainable farming topics, we structured the 2.0 training to have more in-depth discussions on farm management and production. Of course, we couldn’t have an Armed to Farm training without farm visits! Our participants braved very cold, wet weather to visit livestock and vegetable operations. It was a challenging and fun week! Read on for more details about each day’s activities.

Monday

We started the week with introductions. Participants shared what they are doing and what they hope to be doing on their farms. NCAT Northeast Regional Director Andy Pressman then presented on whole-farm planning and facilitated a whole-farm planning group exercise. We had an open discussion about farm planning and bottlenecks/weak links on each of their farms. Monday concluded with NCAT Agriculture Specialist Nina Prater giving a great presentation on The Five Principles of Soil Health. Some participants brought their soil sample test results and Nina and Andy gave specific recommendations for improving soil health.

Tuesday

Our second day was all about recordkeeping and financial management. We started with a discussion about ways participants keep records. Participants shared their experiences using various recordkeeping systems, and we discussed many apps and software programs. They were excited to learn about new tools that can help on their farms.

We then moved on to financial recordkeeping. Ashley Appel, an accountant and wife/farm partner of Armed to Farm alum Travis Appel (Appel Farms), presented about the importance of financial recordkeeping. She talked about using Quickbooks, including setting up a chart of accounts, taxes, payroll, and more. Participants got practical tips for keeping track of their farm finances. Andy and NCAT Southeast Regional Director Margo Hale presented about determining costs of production for enterprises. Andy also presented about decision making strategies for farm equipment purchases. Nina ended the day with a riveting presentation about the farm records her husband kept when they raised pastured poultry, and the story those records tell. It was an honest look at farm production, financial decisions, and the tough reality of being a farmer.

Wednesday

Andy presented on scaling-up production and NCAT Horticulture Specialist Luke Freeman spoke about food safety requirements and on-farm practices. The group then divided into crop and livestock groups. Luke presented about crop planning, including setting up/siting vegetable production and planning to meet a market. NCAT Livestock Specialist Linda Coffey led the livestock folks in a grazing planning session. They shared specific goals for their grazing situations and got feedback on fencing and watering systems.

The weather turned cold and rainy just as we were headed out for our farm visit. We traveled to Ozark Alternatives Farm, a diversified specialty crop operation. Farmer Paul Chapraki gave us an overview of his production and marketing. Paul has three high tunnels and he and Luke talked about specifics of high-tunnel production and management. Andy gave a demonstration on tools with a BCS tractor, and Nina gave a hands-on soil assessment lesson.

Thursday

Farmer veterans practice putting up electronet fencing at Armed to Farm 2.0.We started another very cold day at Maple Gorge Farm, owned by Linda and her husband, Dr. Ken Coffey, a ruminant nutritionist with the University of Arkansas. We watched morning feeding of their sheep flock, observing signs of health, proper nutrition, and ewe and lamb management. Ken discussed hay quality and winter feeding considerations, and Nina gave a pasture soils demonstration. Ken then led a discussion and activity on electric fencing set-up. The group found shorts in the permanent electric fence, then practiced setting up and taking down electronet fencing and polywire electric fencing. The farm visit ended with hands-on experience with the sheep. Participants learned about moving the flock, catching and handling ewes, docking tails, and castrating lambs.

After lunch, we returned to the warm classroom for Dr. Ann Wells’ presentation on Holistic Animal Health. The group then divided again. Participants could stay in the classroom for a pastured poultry discussion led by Terrell “Spence” Spencer of Across the Creek Farm or travel to NCAT Horticulture Specialist Guy Ames’ orchard to learn about pruning fruit trees.

Friday

NCAT Program Specialist Robyn Metzger began the morning with a discussion on communications and branding. A few participants shared their farm logos so the group could give feedback. Robyn helped the participants think about ways to share their farm’s story to connect with customers. Luke then gave a presentation on social media marketing. He looked at participants’ social media pages and based discussion on those examples.

Armed to Farm 2.0 group photo.The training ended with each participant sharing their biggest take-away from the week and what they plan on implementing when they return to their farms.

Overall, it was a great week. It was wonderful to bring together alumni from different parts of the country. We provided tons of information and resources, but the discussions and networking among the participants were most valuable. We hope to secure funding that will allow us to bring Armed to Farm 2.0 to additional locations across the U.S. Stay tuned to www.ncat.org/armedtofarm or our NCAT Armed to Farm Facebook page, where we’ll announce any new trainings!

More Information

Did you know? You don’t have to attend an Armed to Farm training to receive FREE information and technical assistance from sustainable agriculture specialists! ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture is here to help, regardless of whether you’ve attended one of our trainings. Access our publications, podcasts, webinars, and hundreds of other resources on our website, www.attra.ncat.org. You can contact our expert staff members with farming questions by calling 1-800-346-9140 or emailing askanag@ncat.org.

Applications Available for Indiana Armed to Farm Veteran Training

Applications Available for Indiana Armed to Farm Veteran Training

The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is now accepting applications from military veterans who want to attend our week-long Armed to Farm (ATF) training. ATF allows veterans and their spouses to experience sustainable, profitable small-scale farming enterprises and explore agriculture as a viable career. About Armed to Farm ATF’s engaging blend of farm tours,… Continue Reading

Meeting with a Mission: Helping Veterans Succeed in Agriculture

Meeting with a Mission: Helping Veterans Succeed in Agriculture

NCAT Southeast Regional Director Margo Hale and Armed to Farm Coordinator Robyn Metzger recently traveled to Kansas City for the Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC) Stakeholders Conference. Following is their report on the trip. From November 14-17, we joined hundreds of farmer-veterans, representatives from government agencies, and other support organizations at the FVC Stakeholders Conference. These… Continue Reading

A look back at the California Armed to Farm 2018

We finally did it! We brought NCAT’s Armed to Farm (ATF) training to California. The first California Armed to Farm training was host to 27 individual beginning farmers representing all branches of the military. Some came from as far away as Arizona and Washington in their efforts to bridge the gap between the military service… Continue Reading

Applications Open for Armed to Urban Farm in Washington, D.C.

Applications Open for Armed to Urban Farm in Washington, D.C.

In partnership with the United States Botanic Garden (USBG), NCAT is bringing the week-long Armed to Farm (ATF) training to Washington, D.C., for a special event focused on urban farming. Armed to Urban Farm will give veterans an opportunity to see sustainable, profitable small-scale farming enterprises and learn about urban farming as a viable career.… Continue Reading

Applications Available for Armed to Farm in New Hampshire

Applications Available for Armed to Farm in New Hampshire

Deadline to Apply is April 27 The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is bringing its Armed to Farm training to New Hampshire. Armed to Farm gives military veterans an opportunity to learn about transitioning to a farming life. Armed to Farm combines engaging classroom sessions with farm tours and hands-on activities. Participants learn about… Continue Reading

Applications Available for Armed to Farm in California

Applications Available for Armed to Farm in California

The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is bringing the week-long Armed to Farm (ATF) training to California for the first time. ATF gives veterans an opportunity to see sustainable, profitable small-scale farming enterprises and examine farming as a viable career. ATF combines engaging classroom sessions with farm tours and hands-on activities. Participants learn about… Continue Reading

Veteran Scholarships Available for Sustainable Ag Conference

Veteran Scholarships Available for Sustainable Ag Conference

Annual Southern SAWG conference focuses on practical advice for farmers. Limited scholarships are available for military veterans who would like to attend Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group’s (SAWG) annual Practical Tools and Solutions for Sustaining Family Farms Conference. Learn more → Continue Reading

WABI News Featured Maine Armed to Farm

WABI News Featured Maine Armed to Farm

Read the original story and see the video here. Story by Alyssa Thurlow of WABI. MONROE, Maine (WABI) “We have a saying in our family, better be lucky than good because we didn’t know half of what Maine does for it’s farmers.” From the military to farming, you could say the owners of Chase Stream… Continue Reading