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!

ATTRA ATF logo

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

  • October 15 - October 19, 2018 ~ Armed to Farm ~ Glendive, Montana ~ Apply Here!

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

A look back at the California Armed to Farm 2018

ATF Davis 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 and a career in farming. The veterans present at the CA ATF expressed many reasons for pursuing careers in farming, including being their own boss, applying structures and systematic military training to a business, and the desire for physical and mental space away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

classroom ATF CA 2018As the first ATF training on this side of the country, the response was overwhelming: We received 60 applications for the 30 available spaces. Additionally, the training’s focus on sustainable and regenerative farming practices and business development attracted an array of veteran farmers from diverse backgrounds with varying levels of experience.

The ATF training included daily workshop sessions which covered many topics such as sustainable soils, record keeping, business planning, land access and much more. In addition to the NCAT staff presenters: Sustainable Agriculture Specialists Thea Rittenhouse, Martin Guerena, Omar Rodriguez and Regional Director Rex Dufour, experts from FarmLink, United States Department of Agriculture, California Alliance with Family Farmers, University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program and several agriculture lenders shared resources and expertise at the training. Morning workshop sessions then gave way to lunch and afternoon farm visits. Each afternoon the group traveled to a local farm, where the farmers led tours of their properties and shared some of the wisdom and knowledge gained through years of farming and ranching. Many of the farmers utilized sustainable, organic, and regenerative practices, and they were happy to have honest conversations about the challenges and opportunities in farming.

ATF Davis 2018It was an intensive week of training, but we’re proud to say that the most common desire expressed on our daily evaluations was for the training to be expanded. Here are a few of the comments we received from participants:

“Resources, Resources, Resources! The event was piled with so many wonderful and pertinent resources. The information was thought provoking, the presenters were so extremely knowledgeable and personable and the accommodations were good and food abundant. Absolutely wonderful all around!”
“The staff were amazing, respectful, and I am deeply grateful for their service to me and the other veterans. I would not have been able to do this financially without ATTRA’s support. Thank You! Thank You!”

“A great source of education and networking, I probably learned as much from the other attendees as I did from the presenters.”
Keep scrolling for photos and information about the farms we visited:

ATF Davis 2018Our first farm visit took us to Sequoia Farms where veterans learned about orchard irrigation, cover crops, and soil management. We all got our hands dirty with a bit of digging to examine soil structure and biological activity, which is thriving under the abundance of cover crops at Sequoia Farms.

It was a beautiful day at Say Hay Farms. Farmer Chris Hay talked about his business and crop planning/management practices. Participants toured the farm and learned about cultivation of diverse vegetables, pastured poultry, and incorporating native species habitat for farm health. Chris has bat box installations because a single bat, like the Mexican free tail which is common on California farms, can consume its weight in moths and other flying insects in a single night!

Orchard floor management, nutrient cycling and hedgerows were the topics of the day at Paddock Farm. Some walked away with fistfulls of sweet grapefruit and the novel taste of whole green almonds
(seed coat and all) in their mouths. Farmer Brian Paddock stressed the importance of developing lasting relationships with neighboring farmers who have served as great teachers. Sheep borrowed from one neighbor don’t seem to mind mowing Biran’s orchard alleys for him, a great tradeoff that reduces Brian’s management costs while adding fertility to his soil.

Rex Dufour - ATF Davis 2018A happy group of veterans on a tour of Cloverleaf Farm, owned by Emma Torbert. Experimentation and diversity were the common themes on Emma’s farm. The challenges of keeping skilled labor on the farm are a real hurdle for many farmers in California and across the country. She has addressed this challenge by exploring various business structures. Currently the farm is run as a cooperative in which partners share the labor and the profits.

At Yolo Land and Cattle, the group toured Scott Stone’s sprawling beef cattle operation to learn about grazing, predator control, and restoration of sensitive areas. Riparian areas, which are highly sensitive to the impact of large herbivores like cattle, also tend to be the most biodiverse areas on any farm. Protection of these zones helps to keep waterways cleaner and more resistant to erosion.

Mike Maddison had a wealth of knowledge to share with us on our trip to Yolo Bulb. Value added processing, succession planning, and flower production were among the many topics discussed on the tour. As an aging farmer, Mike has been slowly reducing his responsibilities on the farm by transferring some of his acreage to a Korean woman, whose niche is selling Asian vegetables to restaurants, and a couple who are taking over part of his olive orchard. A practical and pragmatic farmer, Mike began his farming career in the Sacramento Valley by looking at potential markets and narrowing in on niche crops that were under-represented in the area. He has also been able to manage the 20-acre farm without the help of hired labor through careful crop selection and planning.

Outdoor Classroom

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

NCAT Offering October Armed to Farm Veteran Training in Montana

NCAT Offering October Armed to Farm Veteran Training in Montana

Please Note: Applications are no longer being accepted. 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. ATF’s engaging… Continue Reading

Arkansas Armed to Farm Trains 30 Veterans

Arkansas Armed to Farm Trains 30 Veterans

We recently trained our largest Armed to Farm class since the program began in 2013: 30 veterans from 15 states spent June 12-16 in Fayetteville, AR, learning about small-scale sustainable farming. If you’ve ever wondered exactly what we do all week, check out our detailed recap below! Monday: We spent the morning in the classroom,… Continue Reading

Armed to Farm Alumni Spotlight: Eric Grandon

Armed to Farm Alumni Spotlight: Eric Grandon

In 2011, Eric Grandon was searching his land for an answer. Eric served nearly 20 years in the Army, completing six deployments to the Middle East including combat tours during Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom II. In 2011, Eric found himself in the middle of a PTSD flashback that left him unable to… Continue Reading