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:
VETERAN FARMER RESERVE PROGRAM
VETERAN FARM FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM
VETERAN FARMER LAND ACCESS
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 80 hours of hands-on farm work at Arcadia during 2016. Reserve Farmers receive hands-on training at Arcadia’s expanding 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 partner the Farmer Veteran Coalition.
The Veteran Farmer Reserve Program is a fee based program with needsbased scholarships offered to qualified veterans.
Current reserve Class: January 2016 to December 2016
Workshop Dates: 1/30-31, 2/20-21,3/19-20,4/23-24,5/21-22, 6/18-19,7/23-24,8/20-21,9/17-18, 10/22-23, 11/19-20, 12/10-11
Tuition: $1,995 – fee includes breakfast and lunch during monthly training weekends.
Reliable transportation required.
The Veteran Farm Fellowship Program is a one-year, intensive on-farm training program with a second year of paid training pending funding. 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 program.
During the optional second year of the program, Veteran Farm Fellows will be placed in paid externships at local sustainable farms to immerse themselves in other methods of farming and learn specialized skill sets – such as greenhouses, aquaponics, livestock, vineyards, and fruit orchards. They will also be schooled in required business skills, such as accounting, marketing, labor laws, and finance.
During both years, 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.
Application: To apply for the fellowship program, please download and fill out the application HERE.
Arcadia is an Equal Opportunity Employer that is committed to diversity in the workplace. People of color, LGBTQ and multilingual people are encouraged to apply.
Arcadia is working with local landowners, nonprofit organizations, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation to identify affordable land suitable for farming where Veteran Farm Fellows can begin their new careers. Arcadia will serve as an intermediary, helping the landowners and farmers work out favorable lease terms. Arcadia is also developing a small incubator farm with shared equipment at Woodlawn Plantation in Alexandria that is expected to be open in 2017-2018 to Veteran Farm Fellows. To support Veterans in their new businesses, Arcadia will commit to purchasing at wholesale prices the fruits and vegetables produced by Veteran Farmers who grow within 125 miles of Washington, D.C. for sale on our Mobile Market and to retail clients. Participation in the buying program will be optional.
Arcadia is raising funds from private donors, philanthropic organizations, corporate sponsorships, and governmental grants to finance the Veteran Farmer Program. For information about sponsorship opportunities, please visit www.arcadiafood.org/VFPSponsorshipOpportunities, or contact Pamela Hess, Executive Director, at Pam@Arcadiafood.org.
Are you a veteran considering a career in sustainable agriculture? Contact Info@Arcadiafood.org for more information.