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Veteran Farmer Program


The average American farmer is 58 – even older in Virginia – and is nearing retirement. The USDA estimates the nation needs 100,000 new farmers to replace them over the next decade.

Hundreds of thousands of American veterans, including those who volunteered for the military after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, are separating from the service every year and seeking meaningful careers in the civilian sector.


Americans are increasingly purchasing local and organic food – the market share grew more than 10 fold in the last decade, despite a major recession.

Veterans are 45 percent more likely to start their own businesses than other Americans. And they have the physical and mental toughness to forge successful careers in agriculture. Years of service have honed their ability to lead; to work independently or as part of a team; to plan, adapt, and overcome crises; and to accomplish whatever mission is before them.


Pay veterans to learn how to farm. Help them find affordable land. Provide easy market access for the food they produce to satisfy the robust and growing public demand. And reinvigorate the farm sector with skilled new growers, eager to begin their next phase of life.

Arcadia’s Veteran Farmer Program is a multilayered, hands-on educational program that develops new farmers; capitalizes on the growing market in local, sustainably grown foods; and encourages entrepreneurship and job creation.

The Veteran Farmer Program has three components:





The Veteran Farmer Reserve Program is for those interested in exploring agriculture without committing to a full-time training program. This 12-month program meets one weekend a month, with an additional service learning commitment of 40 hours of hands-on farm work at Arcadia during the training year. Reserve Farmers receive hands-on training at Arcadia’s farm in Alexandria, VA; visit working livestock, greenhouse, organic, and other farms on field trips; and receive classroom instruction on topics ranging from pest control to marketing and farm business planning. Reserve Farmers also complete independent reading, research, and writing assignments. Arcadia Farm Staff instruction is supplemented by professional farmers and extension agents and supported by staff with our project partners. 

The Veteran Farmer Reserve Program is a fee based program with needsbased scholarships offered to qualified veterans.

2021 Reserve Class: January 2021 to December 2021

Anticipated 2020 Reserve Program Training Dates (please be available for both days, every weekend): Anticipated 2021 Reserve Program Training Dates (please be available for both days, every weekend):
Jan. 30/31; Feb. 27/28; March 27/28; April 24/25; May 22/23; June 26/27; July 24/25; Aug 28/29; Sept 25/26; Oct 30/31; Nov 20/21; December 11/12

Tuition: $1,995 – fee includes breakfast and lunch during monthly training weekends.

Application: Application deadline is November 30 for the Reserve Program. The application is online, and can be found HERE
Reliable transportation required.



The Veteran Farm Fellowship Program is a nine month, intensive, on-farm training program.. Veteran Farm Fellows study and work full time at Arcadia Farm. The Fellows participate in all aspects of Arcadia’s mission, including food access and distribution, sourcing, working with local chefs and retailers, and farm and nutrition education. Farm Fellows work 40-50 hour work weeks, and participate in the Farmer Reserve weekend training program.

Veteran Farm Fellows are mentored by professional farmers and produce a viable business plan for their own farms or agriculture businesses when they complete the program.

Reliable transportation required.

Pay: Full-time annual salary of $19,000 plus optional health benefits. Fellows may also qualify for additional On-the-Job training stipends through the VA and Department of Labor. We will help you with the application process for the additional stipend. 

The 2021 Farm Fellowship will begin in March 1, 2021 and run through November 2021. The Farm Fellows are expected to participate in the Reserve Program Training Weekends (dates listed above). 

Application: The Application deadline for the 2021 Fellowship is November 15, 2020. Applications will be reviewed as they are received.

Please complete the application form HERE AND email a cover letter, resume, and 3 references to with "Veteran Farm Fellowship Application" in the subject line. As the Fellowship is a job, the hiring process includes a review of your submitted information, a series of phone and in-person interviews, and a reference check if selected for the position.

Arcadia is an Equal Opportunity Employer and Prohibits Discrimination and Harassment of Any Kind. Arcadia is committed to the principle of equal employment opportunity for all employees and to providing employees with a work environment free of discrimination and harassment. All employment decisions at Arcadia are based on business needs, job requirements and individual qualifications, without regard to race, color, religion or belief, family or parental status, or any other status protected by the laws or regulations in the locations where we operate. Arcadia will not tolerate discrimination or harassment based on any of these characteristics. Arcadia encourages applicants of all ages.



Arcadia also operates a Veteran Farm Incubator on Arcadia Farm at Woodlawn in Alexandria, VA that is open to graduates of Arcadia's training programs, and other veterans on a case-by-case basis. Arcadia provides access to land, water for irrigation, shared equipment, and additional shared infrastructure to support the incubator farmers as they launch their new farm businesses.

Application: The Application deadline for the 2021 Incubator Farm Production season is January 5, 2021, however, early applications will be considered. The application is online, and can be found HERE 



Thanks to our generous sponsors who make the Veteran Farmer Program possible:
Catoctin Creek Distilling
Grace Communications Foundation
Neighborhood Restaurant Group
Northrop Grumman
Prince Charitable Trusts
Jen Walker Realty

Arcadia continues to raise funds from private donors, philanthropic organizations, corporate sponsorships, and governmental grants to finance the Veteran Farmer Program. For information about sponsorship opportunities, please visit, or contact Pamela Hess, Executive Director, at

From the Arcadia Blog

  • Soil Magic: Reflections From a Veteran Farm Fellow

    By Vanessa Hale, USAF, ret.  The first time I cooked food I had helped grow at Arcadia, I started to cry.  Maybe,  just maybe,  it was the white spear scallions that helped the tear ducts awaken, but shortly thereafter I was...

  • Ready for their close up: The Birbs of Arcadia

    The gates at Arcadia are still closed to the public and to keep safe, Arcadia farmers wear masks, stay six feet apart, wash their hands obsessively. The birds, though? The birds have no idea there's a pandemic going on.They're living...

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