“Learning to farm is more than a notion,” Armed to Farm alum and Montana farmer-veteran Lawrence Rhone recently told KRQE-TV. “It’s another language.”
Rhone is among nearly 1,000 military veterans who’ve completed the hands-on, intensive Armed to Farm training program. First launched in 2013 through a cooperative agreement with USDA-Rural Development, Armed to Farm is funded in part by ATTRA. That same year, Rhone bought his farm in northeast Montana.
Now, Rhone is a vocal advocate for the Armed to Farm program, and he has said that a unique value of the program is the lasting relationships that have formed among the network of alum. For new farmer veterans just getting started, he said there’s no other program like Armed to Farm.
“Get to an Armed to Farm alumnus or contact NCAT because you have put together a tremendous program that helps you figure out how to break the ice.”
The weeklong Armed to Farm training features farm tours and hands-on activities at a variety of successful farms. Participants learn from seasoned farmers and gain direct experience on livestock, vegetable, fruit, and agritourism operations. Farmer veterans learn how to create a business plan and market their products, access USDA programs, set business goals, and develop mentorships with seasoned farmers.
“We don’t just have classroom time. We leave the classroom and go to farms of veterans who are walking the walk and that is powerful,” said Rhone. “When we went into the military, that’s the same way we did that type of training.”