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

  • January 22 - January 25, 2020 ~ Veteran Scholarship to SSAWG Conference ~ Little Rock, AR ~ 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

    Milestones and a Reunion at Armed to Farm Indiana

    Milestones and a Reunion at Armed to Farm Indiana

    We completed our twentieth Armed to Farm training, and our first in the Midwest U.S., back in May! We were excited to partner with Farmer Veteran Coalition of Indiana and AgrAbility to host a group of 18 veterans in Crawfordsville, Indiana, May 13-17.

    It was great to reconnect with Sara Creech, alumnus of our very first Armed to Farm training in 2013, and have her help coordinate this training. Sara is an Indiana farmer and President of the Farmer Veteran Coalition of Indiana. Cindy Chastain, Veteran Outreach Coordinator for AgrAbility, also helped plan the week’s activities. They did an amazing job finding farms for our group to visit and securing speakers from USDA, Farm Credit, and more. Read on for details about what we did each day!

    Monday

    On our first day, NCAT Southeast Regional Director Margo Hale got the training started with group introductions and a session on farm goal setting. We had three representatives from USDA Rural Development and two from Farm Service Agency talk about their programs. Staffers from Congressman Banks, Congressman Carson, and Senator Braun joined us for the morning session. They talked with participants and learned about Armed to Farm. We then visited Four Seasons Local Market, a cooperative store run by four farm families. They all sold at a farmers market together and decided to open the store to extend their product availability for customers. They now sell primarily through the store and have stopped going to the farmers market. The four families share in the expenses and staffing of the store.

    We then toured Shannon Family Farms, one of the partner farms at Four Seasons Local Market. They raise beef, pork, chicken, and eggs.

    Tuesday

    Northeast Regional Director Andy Pressman opened our second day with sessions on small farms, whole-farm planning, and vegetable production and marketing. After Andy’s presentations, we traveled to the Purdue Student Farm. They sell all that they produce to the Purdue dining halls and catering program. They have a new post-harvest handling and storage facility that is Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) compliant and quite impressive. It is a much more elaborate set-up than most producers will have, but we talked about food safety principles and parts of the design that could be adapted for different levels of production.

    After our Purdue visit, we traveled to Crowl Cattle. Cadel Crowl is a veteran and they have a freezer beef operation, selling whole, half, and quarter beeves. Cadel and his wife Becca talked about their handling facilities, the projects they’ve completed with NRCS funding, their breeding and selection program, pasture management, and product marketing.

    Wednesday

    Sara Creech, right, talks about her high tunnel production during Armed to Farm in Indiana.

    Our third day started with a speaker from Farm Credit Services discussing tips for working with a lender and accessing capital. Then Rusty Rumley from the National Agricultural Law Center presented about legal issues and business structures for farmers. Rusty has presented at several Armed to Farm trainings and always does a great job. Margo then presented about recordkeeping.

    After the morning classroom sessions, we visited Sara Creech’s farm, Blue Yonder Organic Farm. The NRCS agent she works with spoke about their programs, and we saw several NRCS-funded projects in place on Sara’s farm. She has two high tunnels, diversified vegetable production, mushrooms, fruit trees, beef, lamb, and poultry. It was amazing to see the operation she has built from the ground up in six years. When she attended Armed to Farm in 2013 she had just bought the land, but hadn’t started producing anything yet. Everyone was inspired by her and the beautiful farm. We ended with a cookout at the farm and enjoyed a lovely evening visiting with each other.

    Thursday

    Margo kicked off our fourth day with a talk on soil health, and Armed to Farm Coordinator Robyn Metzger presented on farm-branding basics. After the morning sessions, we visited Sugar Creek Vineyards, a small vineyard and wine making operation. We saw the vineyard and learned about the challenges of growing grapes in Indiana. The farmer, Zach, also farms about 7,500 acres of corn and soybeans. He talked about the sustainable practices, including cover crops and no till, that he has implemented in his fairly conventional operation.

    After our vineyard visit, we headed over to Rockville, IN, to visit King Bee, an apiary and beekeeping supply operation. We got to see hives in action and learned about different types of equipment and production methods for beekeeping.

    Friday

    Robyn started our final day with a presentation on communicating with customers and different aspects of sharing your farm story. Margo then presented on social media marketing and closed the classroom sessions with a discussion of different marketing channels. To close out the week, Margo presented completion certificates to the participants, and everyone shared their take-aways from the training.

    It was such a great week in Indiana! The group was really engaged and eager to learn, and the speakers and farms were top-notch. We left our twentieth Armed to Farm energized and ready for the next event!

    Additional Information

    For more about our Armed to Farm program, visit ncat.org/armedtofarm. You can also follow us on Facebook.

    Find FREE sustainable agriculture publications, videos, podcasts, webinars, online courses, and more on the ATTRA Sustainable Sustainable Agriculture website. Our sustainable agriculture specialists are here to answer your questions! Call 1-800-346-9140 or email askanag@ncat.org.

    Applications Open for Armed to Urban Farm in Cleveland, OH

    Applications Open for Armed to Urban Farm in Cleveland, OH

    In partnership with the United States Botanic Garden (USBG) and Holden Forests & Gardens, NCAT is bringing the week-long Armed to Farm (ATF) veterans training to Cleveland, Ohio, for a special event focused on urban farming. Armed to Urban Farm will give military veterans an opportunity to see sustainable, profitable small-scale farming enterprises and learn… Continue Reading

    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… Continue Reading

    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