We have talked about our Mission in depth – simply put, it is to train and equip veterans to translate their talents from the field to the farm. Broadly, our goal is to help Veterans rehabilitate and reintegrate through agriculture. However, our vision expands beyond the individual farm, and looks to create a network of interdependent and self-sufficient veteran-owned farms practicing sustainable agriculture through community based education and production.
This means that through the Dauntless Veteran Foundation veterans will be given the opportunity to start their own farms. To do this we will give them the experience necessary to qualify for their own first-time-farmer loan through the USDA; which requires three years experience managing a particular crop. The USDA waives one year for veteran status, so veterans just need two years of experience farming to qualify.
DVF will not only provide experience through partnering farms, but will also provide scholarships to agricultural programs across the country. In addition, DVF will assist with job placement in agriculture and related industries. For those farmer-veterans that complete our program and are successful in securing their own farm, DVF will help that farmer-veteran network to find a value added producer to buy the commodity they are growing. We already have avenues for grapes and orchards, but are looking to expand into grains, hops, and other specialty crops.
How else can we entice veterans to take up agriculture?
First, we need to remind people that it is possible to start your own farm without any experience! In fact, our Founder-President struck out in 2014 to start his own vineyard and farm without any prior experience and was able to accomplish his mission in 2020 by securing 6.5 acres of farmland of statewide importance through the USDA. His experience is a template that can be applied by any veteran that is interested in agriculture.
Second, veterans need to know that farming is an adventure, and veterans love a good adventure while overcoming difficult situations. Farming and soldiering are eerily similar – with farming, every year has new challenges that must be overcome, and sometimes those challenges can be quite hair raising. Let’s be honest, both soldiering and farming are dangerous – quite dangerous at times. Farming operations include heavy duty machinery, high voltage, caustic substances, and overall tight situations that require quick and cool thinking.
Third, farming is full of camaraderie which veterans crave, but largely lack after their tenure of service. By and large, farmers are there to help each other because they all know that they are all on the same ship together. Truck broke down? We’ll give you a tow! Missing some equipment? Borrow mine! Short on labor? Here’s my foreman’s number! This camaraderie fosters a unique culture that echoes throughout communities and becomes a keystone to local culture.
Fourth, community! Farmers enjoy one of the highest levels of public trust of any group. However, the population is somewhat skeptical of “modern” agriculture, i.e. – big ag. By reuniting veterans with small scale agriculture we can help bridge the divide between veterans and civilians by having them meet in the middle – on the farm. This will help local communities know their farmers and build stronger food security in a time of frequent supply chain disruption.
Fifth, farming comes with an incredible sense of accomplishment and fulfillment of duty to one’s community. Veterans all joined the military with a sense of purpose and duty to their country. Farming keeps that tradition alive in veterans and reconnects them with what is important – life.
If you or someone you know is interested in getting involved please contact us here.
Dauntless Veteran Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) – tax deductible contributions can be made here.