Just before Christmas, the Associated Press ran a great story about a farm in San Diego that employs veterans returning from the Middle East. The vets said that they appreciated being able to work outside, in some solitude, with plants that don't talk back or argue with them. The Marine who started the farm on his property after he returned from his three tours of duty, said that a long day of hard work was the best thing for him:
"When our hands stop working and our minds start running, that's when
bad things start to happen. So we keep the work load heavy. We stay
busy," he said. "For me, if I slow down, if I stop doing what I'm
focused on, that's when I can get myself in trouble."
I think we can all relate to that. But what really touched me, after I did some searching around, was this quote from an Army veteran who is doing a similar thing in northern California:
“Through all the heavy fighting I kept watching the Iraqi farmers in
the distance. There were a lot of them and they just kept farming their
land despite all that was happening around them. That inspired me.”
Imagine–soldiers looking longingly at the farmers whose country they are disrupting, and resolving to get home and give it a try.
It turns out that there are a number of these farms-for-veterans programs springing up around the country, and the San Diego farm–a place called Archi's Acres–is using hoophouses and greenhouses, a model it hopes can be replicated around the country in areas that aren't so conducive to year-round farming.
Anyway. They are accepting donations, not just of cash, but also of farm equipment and office supplies, so check that out here. (You can also find their produce at Whole Foods and other markets in San Diego.) And check out the Farmer-Veteran Coalition, which helps makes these kind of connections between farmers and veterans across the country.