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The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is partnering with Holistic Management International (HMI) to bring its Armed to Farm training to the Southwest. Armed to Farm will take place March 28-April 1, 2022, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Participants will attend classroom sessions and travel to local farms for hands-on learning experiences.

Armed to Farm trainings include an engaging blend of farm tours, hands-on activities, and interactive classroom instruction. NCAT Sustainable Agriculture specialists will teach the training sessions. Staff from HMI, USDA agencies, and experienced crop and livestock producers will provide additional instruction.

This training is for military veterans in the Southwest, with preference given to those in New Mexico. The number of participants will be limited. Spouses or farm partners are welcome as well but must submit a separate application.

Click HERE to apply by February 11. NCAT will notify selected participants by February 18.

Sponsors

NCAT is organizing and hosting this Armed to Farm event in partnership with Holistic Management International. Funding is provided by USDA’s Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement.

Questions?

Please contact Margo Hale at margoh@ncat.org or 479-442-9824.

The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and Ranchin’ Vets have teamed up to offer a new level of support for military veterans interested in sustainable agriculture training opportunities. Ranchin’ Vets will fund a one-time transportation stipend directly to veterans selected to participate in NCAT’s Armed to Farm training program.

Armed to Farm is a sustainable agriculture training program for military veterans. NCAT manages the program with support from a variety of funding sources, including a cooperative agreement with USDA-Rural Development. Since launching in 2013, Armed to Farm has supported more than 800 farmer veterans from 45 states with hands-on and classroom learning opportunities. Farmer veterans learn how to make a business plan and market their products, how to access USDA programs, set business goals, and develop mentorships with seasoned farmers.

Armed to Farm has always been free for veterans and their spouses or farm partners to attend. NCAT covers the cost of lodging, most meals, and local transportation during the training. However, attendees have always been responsible for getting themselves to the training site, which could require long drives across several states or even airfare.

“We want everyone who is accepted into the Armed to Farm program to be able to participate, so we are excited to partner with Ranchin’ Vets to open this opportunity to even more farmer veterans,” said Margo Hale, Armed to Farm Program Director. “Although the training itself is free, the cost of traveling to the training can be substantial and has been a barrier to veterans attending Armed to Farm in the past. We’re very thankful for this opportunity to offer another level of support to the farmer veterans who attend Armed to Farm.”

Ranchin’ Vets, a California based 501 c (3) nonprofit organization founded in 2014, serves veterans on a national level, with a mission to assist in the reintegration of veterans from military to civilian life through a variety of programs offered within the ranching and agricultural industry.

The Ranchin’ Vets Operation Hire A Vet Program connects veterans with opportunities within the agricultural industry. Veterans in the program who need additional support receive a temporary stipend towards transportation, housing and clothing as they pursue agricultural opportunities.

“Through our Operation Hire A Vet Program, we recognized the need for a training program that will equip veterans with the tools they need to be successful in their agricultural endeavors. This partnership with Armed to Farm is an incredible opportunity to work together to assure that all veterans who are interested in pursuing this path will have access to resources that will help them thrive,” said Corey Downs, Ranchin’ Vets Program Director. “Our programs go hand-in-hand, providing veterans with fully funded access to professional agricultural training, as well as assistance in seeking and obtaining agricultural employment. We are so grateful to have the opportunity to work with Armed to Farm.”  

The travel stipends will be available starting with the next Armed to Farm training, scheduled for Dec. 1-3, 2021, in Athens, Georgia. For Armed to Farm participants to receive a transportation stipend, they must successfully register with Ranchin’ Vets.

For more information about Ranchin’ Vets, visit ranchinvets.org. See ARMEDTOFARM.ORG for more about NCAT’s Armed to Farm program.

By Robyn Metzger, Armed to Farm Coordinator

The National Center for Appropriate Technology has launched a new website for its farmer veteran training program, Armed to Farm. The site, ARMEDTOFARM.ORG, features program news, promotes upcoming training opportunities, and connects alumni with sustainable agriculture resources and other farmer veterans.  

NCAT developed the first Armed to Farm training in 2013 through a Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Project with the University of Arkansas. The program has expanded over the past eight years with support from a cooperative agreement with USDA-Rural Development. The program has helped more than 800 veterans, and their spouses or farm partners, from 45 states. 

Visitors to the new Armed to Farm website will find a calendar of events that highlights not only NCAT-sponsored events, but also veteran-focused educational opportunities offered by other organizations around the country.  

The Join Our Network section provides options for staying in touch with the Armed to Farm team and fellow farmer veterans, including sign-up forms for email news and the Veterans in Agriculture Listserv. Visit the News page to find details on upcoming training events, post-training recaps, and spotlights on Armed to Farm alumni. We love to hear and share alumni stories!  

Speaking of alumni stories, be sure to check out the About page to view a short video starring three alumni and their farms. They share their experiences with the program and how it helped them as they started out. While you’re on that page, you can meet the five NCAT staff members who make up the core Armed to Farm team.  

If you have any questions about Armed to Farm or other farmer veteran resources, feel free to contact any of the team members. We are here to help!  

We have at least 20 Armed to Farm events lined up for the next three to four years, and planning is already underway for Spring 2022 events in California, New Mexico, and Texas. Visit ARMEDTOFARM.ORG today to sign up to receive email alerts when the event application periods open! 

Mark Stewart, a Navy veteran and 2019 Armed to Farm alum, launched a micro-farm business last year on Whidbey Island, Washington. Now, Stewart and his wife Melissa are featured in the Whidbey News-Times.

They saw a need for local chicken on Whidbey Island and opened One Willow Farm last year. Now the busy couple sells eggs, chicken and turkeys. They give their birds nutritious, non-GMO feed without soy or corn.

They have a heritage breed of turkey called Bourbon Red and fast-growing Jumbo Cornish Cross meat chicken. There are several breeds of egg-laying chickens on the small farm. Melissa Stewart also has a few different types of chickens that she keeps as pets that lay eggs in all types of colors – including light green. – Whidbey News-Times

The Stewarts grew up on farms, and tell the Whidbey News-Times the National Center for Appropriate Technology’s Armed to Farm program gave them the tools and guidance needed to be confident in launching their own business.

“We always knew we wanted to get back to farming,” Mark Stewart said.

The couple entered the “Armed to Farm” program operated by the National Center for Appropriate Technology in 2019. The program gives interested veterans an overview of how to get started in agriculture and takes them on site visits to veteran-owned farms.

Melissa Stewart described it as a “one-week crash course in all you need to know about farming.”

She said it is a great resource for any veterans interested in pursuing an agricultural career. – Whidbey News-Times

Armed to Farm is a sustainable agriculture training program for military veterans. The National Center for Appropriate Technology, a national nonprofit organization based in Butte, Montana, developed Armed to Farm through a cooperative agreement with USDA-Rural Development.