Armed To Farm (Part 1)
It's been a busy month at Four Flags Farm! As an Air Force veteran, Ben applied and was accepted to a veteran farming training in Crawfordsville, IN, called Armed to Farm, which is provided by NCAT. This training is an opportunity for military veterans to learn about sustainable and organic agriculture, including running a farm business. It was a great experience!
There were a wide variety of veterans in attendance, representing most branches of the military, about equal amount male/female, various ages from late twenties to late sixties, some brought spouses, etc. Veterans got the chance to learn from presenters from several government agencies, currently practicing farmers, and take numerous trips to visit farms.
First the veterans started with a little light reading...
Just kidding! This was the reference material that was provided to the veterans that they can use once they get home.
After introductions, the group learned about the Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC). This is a great organization that focuses on helping military veterans who are interested in agriculture. It provides resources for marketing (through Homegrown By Heroes), farming, and business. Additionally, they can provide some financial assistance through their FVC fellowship. Ben is both a member of FVC Indiana and a recipient of the FVC fellowship (gift card to Tractor Supply Co.).
The training then covered several programs offered by the USDA. These programs covered:
After lunch, we went on the road to visit Four Seasons. The market is a venture by four farmer families to provide local food to the Crawfordsville area year round, instead of only during summer. As their website states:
The market offers beef, pork, lamb, chickens, eggs, coffee, homemade heat and serve meals, honey, syrup, and a variety of homemade baked goods.
While at Four Seasons, we discussed how they chose their location, their target customers, their business model, local advertising, division of responsibilities of the owners, as well as a couple of "oh poop" moments, such as when freezers break down and product is lost.
Our final destination was Shannon Family Farms, one of the four farms that runs Four Seasons. Their family farm is a diversified livestock farm raising pork, beef, chicken, and eggs. They are nestled on a beautiful 9 acre farm, including a barn from the late 1800's.
That's it for this post; hope you liked it. Keep checking back for Part 2, when we discuss more classroom topics, the Purdue Student Farm, and Crowl Cattle Farm.
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We are Four Flags Farm, Armonda & Ben Riggs!