The SOP is now working with the University of Missouri Extension, Lincoln University Extension, and others to develop, fund, and conduct programs that will bring Veterans to Farmers workshops and farm visits into each county in the Fort Leonard Wood region.
Our region currently has one of the largest concentrations of veterans in the country; 16.8% of the population 18 and over are veterans and there is evidence that this group is interested in farming.
In 2013, the Center for Rural Affairs (CFRA) awarded a small grant to Lincoln University Extension to conduct workshops focused on this topic and in 2014, the CFRA received another grant from the USDA Office of Risk Management to conduct additional workshops, expand outreach, and provide training and assistance to new veteran farmers.
The Veterans to Farmers workshops are part of a larger program that encourages long-term development of a secure food shed that would provide much of the food needs for the Fort Leonard Wood region. A secure food shed would provide enhanced food security and wellness, availability of affordable, quality food, and produce a thriving agricultural industry.
There is a specific need for increased food production in our region. Our regional population grew 17.1% between 2000 and 2013. Additionally, there are a number of institutions that provide food service, including universities, school districts, hospitals, and nursing homes, as well as dining facilities on Fort Leonard Wood, which serve 26,000 meals per day (3.4 million pounds of vegetables and meat annually). Providing affordable, locally grown food to these organizations would be mutually beneficial.
Additional partners for this program include the Center for Rural Affairs, Missouri Farm Bureau, and the Pulaski County Sheltered Workshop.
For more information on the secure food shed, click here.
The following presentations were given during our September workshop.
CFRA Financing Resources
FSA Veterans Presentation
Native Plants Presentation
AgrAbility Veterans Presentation