Tag Archive for: Armed to Farm

Armed to Farm in Albuquerque

After two years of delays due to COVID-19, NCAT finally hosted an Armed to Farm training in the Southwest. At the end of March, we hosted 27 veterans and their spouses or family farm partners in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for a week of training. As the Director of Armed to Farm, I have had the joy of participating in the majority of our 27 in-person Armed to Farm trainings. Each time, it is a delight to meet farmer veterans who are eager to expand their farm and ranch operations and connect them to the many resources and networks that are available to support them.

Steven Nuñez

NCAT’s Free Farmer-Veteran Training is Headed to Texas

The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is bringing its free Armed to Farm training back to the Hill Country, after hosting a 2015 training in Castroville, Texas. Armed to Farm will take place May 16-20, 2022, in Fredericksburg. Farmer-veterans will attend classroom sessions and travel to local farms for hands-on learning experiences. The deadline to apply is Friday, April 8.

Armed to Farm trainings include an engaging blend of farm tours, hands-on activities, and interactive classroom instruction. NCAT Sustainable Agriculture specialists will teach the sessions. Staff from USDA agencies and experienced crop and livestock producers will provide additional instruction.

“We’re eager to bring Armed to Farm back to the Lone Star State,” said Armed to Farm Program Director Margo Hale. “Armed to Farm has served more than 800 veterans in all corners of the country as they start or grow their own sustainable farm business.”  

Armed to Farm is a sustainable agriculture training program for military veterans. NCAT, a national nonprofit organization based in Butte, Montana, developed Armed to Farm in 2013 through a cooperative agreement with USDA-Rural Development. Farmer veterans learn how to make a business plan and market their products, how to access USDA programs, set business goals, and develop mentorships with seasoned farmers.

“The education that I received has been invaluable for the launching and development of our family farm, Mind Your Garden Urban Farm,” said Armed to Farm alumnus Steven Nuñez, who farms with his family in Fort Worth. “The NCAT staff were truly knowledgeable and always willing to help and answer questions. The three most helpful takeaways for me were learning of the many resources available for veterans interested in a career in agriculture, the importance of diversifying income streams for the farm operation, and most importantly, understanding how crucial it is to cultivate a new generation of farmers to carry on the service to our country that our aging farmers have provided for decades.”

This training is for military veterans in Southwest. The number of participants will be limited. Spouses or farm partners are welcome to attend with a veteran but must submit a separate application.

Click HERE to apply by April 8. NCAT will notify selected participants by April 15.

Armed to Farm Texas is supported by funding from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement. Successful applicants may also receive a travel stipend thanks to our partnership with California-based Ranchin’ Vets.

Learn more about NCAT’s Armed to Farm and additional training series at ARMEDTOFARM.ORG.

Armed to Farm training

NCAT’s Free Farmer-Veteran Training is Headed to California

The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is bringing its free Armed to Farm training to southern California for the first time, after hosting a 2018 training in Davis, Calif. Armed to Farm will take place April 18-22, 2022, in San Diego. West Coast farmer-veterans will attend classroom sessions and travel to local farms for hands-on learning experiences.

Armed to Farm trainings include an engaging blend of farm tours, hands-on activities, and interactive classroom instruction. NCAT Sustainable Agriculture specialists will teach the sessions. Staff from USDA agencies and experienced crop and livestock producers will provide additional instruction.

“We’re eager to bring Armed to Farm back to the Golden State,” said NCAT Southeast Regional and Armed to Farm Program Director Margo Hale. “Armed to Farm has served more than 800 veterans in all corners of the country as they start or grow their own sustainable farm business.”  

Armed to Farm is a sustainable agriculture training program for military veterans. NCAT, a national nonprofit organization based in Butte, Montana, developed Armed to Farm in 2013 through a cooperative agreement with USDA-Rural Development. Farmer veterans learn how to make a business plan and market their products, how to access USDA programs, set business goals, and develop mentorships with seasoned farmers.

This training is for military veterans in the West. The number of participants will be limited. Spouses or farm partners are welcome as well but must submit a separate application.

Click HERE to apply by March 4. NCAT will notify selected participants by March 11.

Armed to Farm California is supported by funding from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture AgVets program. Successful applications may also receive a travel stipend thanks to our partnership with California-based Ranchin’ Vets.

Learn more about NCAT’s Armed to Farm and additional training series at ARMEDTOFARM.ORG.

Armed to Farm training

Applications Open for Armed to Farm California Training

The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) will bring its Armed to Farm training back to California this spring. Veterans who want to attend the week-long training in San Diego can apply online now.

Armed to Farm gives veterans and their spouses the opportunity to experience sustainable, profitable small-scale farming enterprises and explore career opportunities in agriculture. At Armed to Farm, participants learn about business planning, budgeting, recordkeeping, marketing, USDA programs, livestock production, fruit and vegetable production, and more. Participants gain a strong foundation in the basic principles of operating a sustainable farm. In addition, Armed to Farm attendees join a nationwide network of supportive farmer-veterans and agricultural advisors.

Armed to Farm trainings include an engaging blend of farm tours, hands-on activities, and interactive classroom instruction. NCAT Sustainable Agriculture specialists will teach the training sessions. Staff from USDA agencies and experienced crop and livestock producers will provide additional instruction.

Applications are available here and are due by March 4, 2022.

Veterans from Western states will receive selection priority for this training. The number of participants will be limited. NCAT will notify selected participants by March 11. Spouses or farm partners are welcome as well but must submit a separate application.

Dates, Location, and Cost

Armed to Farm will take place April 18-22 in San Diego, California. Participants will attend classroom sessions and travel to local farms for hands-on learning experiences.

The event is free for those chosen to attend; lodging, transportation to local farms, and most meals will be provided. Participants must pay their own travel costs to and from the event, but travel scholarships are available through a partnership with Ranchin’ Vets.

NCAT reserves the right to postpone this event if necessary due to COVID-19. Attendees must have received COVID-19 vaccinations, including a booster shot, and must provide a copy of their vaccination card.

Sponsors

NCAT is organizing and hosting this Armed to Farm event with support from USDA NRCS, the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts, and USDA NIFA’s AgVets program.

Questions?

Please contact Rex Dufour at rexd@ncat.org or 530-792-7338.

Applications Open for Armed to Farm New Mexico

The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is partnering with Holistic Management International (HMI) to bring its Armed to Farm training to the Southwest. Armed to Farm will take place March 28-April 1, 2022, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Participants will attend classroom sessions and travel to local farms for hands-on learning experiences.

Armed to Farm trainings include an engaging blend of farm tours, hands-on activities, and interactive classroom instruction. NCAT Sustainable Agriculture specialists will teach the training sessions. Staff from HMI, USDA agencies, and experienced crop and livestock producers will provide additional instruction.

This training is for military veterans in the Southwest, with preference given to those in New Mexico. The number of participants will be limited. Spouses or farm partners are welcome as well but must submit a separate application.

Click HERE to apply by February 11. NCAT will notify selected participants by February 18.

Sponsors

NCAT is organizing and hosting this Armed to Farm event in partnership with Holistic Management International. Funding is provided by USDA’s Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement.

Questions?

Please contact Margo Hale at margoh@ncat.org or 479-442-9824.

Alumni Spotlight: Tammi and Stephen Bell, Waterline Farm

Tammi and Stephen attended the Armed to Farm held in Fayetteville, Arkansas, in 2018. They operate a diversified small farm in Pryor, Oklahoma. Tammi recently sent us an update on their farm: 

“Sometimes it seems that we haven’t made much progress, but as we reviewed how much we have grown and learned since ATF it has been an amazing journey. The local community now looks to us (mostly Stephen), because they recognize the quality of our drug- and chemical-free all on-pasture raised animals.” 

The Bells recently added to their farm by purchasing an additional 18.5 acres of land.  

“The property across the street is a 12-year unmanaged wood lot, on a slope,” Tammy writes. “Very undesirable to most folks. We plan to harvest wood for biochar and mulch the overgrowth, to create a silvopasture where the goats and sheep can graze in their favorite natural environment. We plan to have a have a lake view agritourist/wedding venue/you-pick, demonstration farm/ranch!!!” 

The Bells are keeping busy in other ways as well.  

“Stephen is in the Agroforestry MS program at Missouri University. I completed the OSU Master Gardener Course last year. We received a grant from the Oklahoma State Department of Forestry in 2019 for riparian buffers for our shoreline, windbreakers, and to restore native wildlife habitat.  

We enjoy making videos of life on the farm. Waterline Farm on Facebook and YouTube.” 

Have you attended an Armed to Farm? We’d love to know what you’ve been up to since then! Email your updates to robynm@ncat.org

Cleveland high tunnel

NCAT and Ranchin’ Vets Partner to Make Armed to Farm Trainings Accessible to More Farmer Veterans

The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and Ranchin’ Vets have teamed up to offer a new level of support for military veterans interested in sustainable agriculture training opportunities. Ranchin’ Vets will fund a one-time transportation stipend directly to veterans selected to participate in NCAT’s Armed to Farm training program.

Armed to Farm is a sustainable agriculture training program for military veterans. NCAT manages the program with support from a variety of funding sources, including a cooperative agreement with USDA-Rural Development. Since launching in 2013, Armed to Farm has supported more than 800 farmer veterans from 45 states with hands-on and classroom learning opportunities. Farmer veterans learn how to make a business plan and market their products, how to access USDA programs, set business goals, and develop mentorships with seasoned farmers. 

Armed to Farm has always been free for veterans and their spouses or farm partners to attend. NCAT covers the cost of lodging, most meals, and local transportation during the training. However, attendees have always been responsible for getting themselves to the training site, which could require long drives across several states or even airfare. 

“We want everyone who is accepted into the Armed to Farm program to be able to participate, so we are excited to partner with Ranchin’ Vets to open this opportunity to even more farmer veterans,” said Margo Hale, Armed to Farm Program Director. “Although the training itself is free, the cost of traveling to the training can be substantial and has been a barrier to veterans attending Armed to Farm in the past. We’re very thankful for this opportunity to offer another level of support to the farmer veterans who attend Armed to Farm.”

Ranchin’ Vets, a California based 501 c (3) nonprofit organization founded in 2014, serves veterans on a national level, with a mission to assist in the reintegration of veterans from military to civilian life through a variety of programs offered within the ranching and agricultural industry. 

The Ranchin’ Vets Operation Hire A Vet Program connects veterans with opportunities within the agricultural industry. Veterans in the program who need additional support receive a temporary stipend towards transportation, housing and clothing as they pursue agricultural opportunities. 

“Through our Operation Hire A Vet Program, we recognized the need for a training program that will equip veterans with the tools they need to be successful in their agricultural endeavors. This partnership with Armed to Farm is an incredible opportunity to work together to assure that all veterans who are interested in pursuing this path will have access to resources that will help them thrive,” said Corey Downs, Ranchin’ Vets Program Director. “Our programs go hand-in-hand, providing veterans with fully funded access to professional agricultural training, as well as assistance in seeking and obtaining agricultural employment. We are so grateful to have the opportunity to work with Armed to Farm.”  

The travel stipends will be available starting with the next Armed to Farm training, scheduled for Dec. 1-3, 2021, in Athens, Georgia. For Armed to Farm participants to receive a transportation stipend, they must successfully register with Ranchin’ Vets. 

For more information about Ranchin’ Vets, visit ranchinvets.org. See ARMEDTOFARM.ORG for more about NCAT’s Armed to Farm program.

Episode 224. From the Air Force to Alpacas

Alvina Maynard credits a commercial she happened to see on television while staying in a hotel with inspiring her to raise alpacas.

In this episode of Voices from the Field, NCAT’s Southeast Regional Director and Director of NCAT’s Armed to Farm Program Margo Hale, talks with Alvina, an Air Force Reservist who owns River Hill Ranch in Richmond, Kentucky.

Alvina talks about her military background, her farming enterprises, and how her operation has grown. She also shares her experience accessing various USDA programs, including the Value-Added Producer Grant and EQIP. Alvina discusses the programs and services she has utilized, how those programs have helped her reach her farm goals, and tips for veterans and other farmers as they navigate USDA programs.

ATTRA Resources:

Other Resources:

Contact Margo Hale via email at margoh@ncat.org.

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You can get in touch with NCAT/ATTRA specialists and find our other extensive, and free, sustainable-agriculture publications, webinars, videos, and other resources on NCAT/ATTRA’s homepage.

You can also stay in touch with NCAT at its Facebook page.

Cleveland high tunnel

NCAT Programs Help Service Members Succeed in Agriculture

By Margo Hale, Southeast Regional Director and Livestock Specialist 

Do you know what 11% of U.S. producers have in common? It’s not that they grow tomatoes or sell at farmers markets—it’s that they have served or are serving in the military. And do you know who offers training and networking opportunities specifically for military veterans interested in sustainable farming operations? NCAT does! NCAT has a long history of educating new and beginning farmers on sustainable production, financial management, marketing options, and other agricultural and risk management topics, and we recognized the need to provide this education specifically to veterans. 

checking out the eggmobile

Terrell Spencer leads a tour of his pastured poultry operation, Across the Creek Farm, during an Armed to Farm training in Fayetteville, AR. Photo: NCAT

In 2010, through a series of workshops and events, NCAT began targeted outreach and training for military veterans interested in farming. In 2011, the Farmer Veteran Coalition partnered with NCAT to host a series of two-day workshops in four states. These workshops were called “Armed to Farm,” and we recognized there was something special about bringing together a group of veterans. During this time, Army veteran and beginning farmer Terrell Spencer was working at NCAT as an agriculture specialist. He understood the challenges of transitioning out of the military and trying to start a farm, and he knew there were many other veterans interested in farming. He believed veterans interested in starting and running sustainable farming enterprises would benefit from an intensive “farming boot camp” training, and in 2013 we developed the weeklong Armed to Farm training. Armed to Farm consists of classroom sessions on subjects such as USDA programs, goal setting, business planning, recordkeeping, marketing, and various production topics. The training also features farm tours and hands-on activities at a variety of successful farms. 

Since that first Armed to Farm training, we have held 25 weeklong events and one virtual training. More than 800 military veterans and spouses/farm partners from 45 states have participated in Armed to Farm. We have expanded the training opportunities available and Armed to Farm now offers three training series:  

  • Flagship, weeklong hands-on and classroom training for new farmer veterans  
  • Armed to Urban Farm focuses on veterans who are new farmers in urban areas  
  • Armed to Farm 2.0 is advanced sustainable agriculture training designed for farmer veterans who have completed a previous weeklong session. It provides in-depth curriculum and hands-on activities tailored to participants’ needs.  

Farmer veterans who attend one of the training series make connections with their peers and other farmers that increase their ability to succeed. They have access to individualized technical assistance, one-on-one consultations, in-person networking events, and virtual learning opportunities through NCAT. 

Cleveland high tunnel

An Armed to Urban Farm participant gets hands-on experience in a high tunnel in Cleveland, OH. Photo: NCAT

The demand for training remains high from veterans interested in starting farms, and we are working hard to meet that demand. We have more than 20 Armed to Farm events planned over the next three years. We will continue to provide in-person and virtual networking opportunities, educational resources, and personalized technical assistance through ATTRA.  

If you are interested in learning more about Armed to Farm, visit our new website. There you will find information about upcoming Armed to Farm trainings, an event calendar, news, resources, and ways to connect to NCAT and other farmer veterans. We encourage you to sign-up for Armed to Farm news, join the Veterans in Ag Listserv, and like Armed to Farm on Facebook. If you are a veteran interested in pursuing agriculture, please reach out. We are here to connect you to resources, answer your questions about getting started in farming, and support you as you work towards your farm goals.  

Resources:

ATTRA Veteran Resources 

Armed to Farm: Supporting Farmer Veterans 

Forty Years Later, Mr. Burch is Back on the Farm  

Veterans Discuss USDA Programs 

Veteran Tells Dusty Hound Story 

Veteran Helps Veterans Learn to Farm 

From “Shovel and Rototiller” to Conservation Champ 

Camaraderie at Armed to Farm 

This blog is produced by the National Center for Appropriate Technology through the ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture program, under a cooperative agreement with USDA Rural Development. ATTRA.NCAT.ORG. 

ATF website screenshot

New Digital Home for NCAT’s Armed to Farm

By Robyn Metzger, Armed to Farm Coordinator

The National Center for Appropriate Technology has launched a new website for its farmer veteran training program, Armed to Farm. The site, ARMEDTOFARM.ORG, features program news, promotes upcoming training opportunities, and connects alumni with sustainable agriculture resources and other farmer veterans. 

NCAT developed the first Armed to Farm training in 2013 through a Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Project with the University of Arkansas. The program has expanded over the past eight years with support from a cooperative agreement with USDA-Rural Development. The program has helped more than 800 veterans, and their spouses or farm partners, from 45 states. 

Visitors to the new Armed to Farm website will find a calendar of events that highlights not only NCAT-sponsored events, but also veteran-focused educational opportunities offered by other organizations around the country.  

The Join Our Network section provides options for staying in touch with the Armed to Farm team and fellow farmer veterans, including sign-up forms for email news and the Veterans in Agriculture Listserv. Visit the News page to find details on upcoming training events, post-training recaps, and spotlights on Armed to Farm alumni. We love to hear and share alumni stories!  

Speaking of alumni stories, be sure to check out the About page to view a short video starring three alumni and their farms. They share their experiences with the program and how it helped them as they started out. While you’re on that page, you can meet the five NCAT staff members who make up the core Armed to Farm team.  

If you have any questions about Armed to Farm or other farmer veteran resources, feel free to contact any of the team members. We are here to help!  

We have at least 20 Armed to Farm events lined up for the next three to four years, and planning is already underway for Spring 2022 events in California, New Mexico, and Texas. Visit ARMEDTOFARM.ORG today to sign up to receive email alerts when the event application periods open! 

This blog is produced by the National Center for Appropriate Technology through the ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture program, under a cooperative agreement with USDA Rural Development. ATTRA.NCAT.ORG.