Wonderful World Wednesday
White Dog and The White Dog Army are grateful to the brave men and women who serve in our armed forces. It is an act of patriotism that should be repaid with support, respect, and understanding; instead US vets find themselves among the highest groups of unemployed and lacking the programs to facilitate healing and re-entry into civilian life.
While the WDA prays for the day when there is no longer a need for military force anywhere in the world, we feel that those who serve in this age should not be forgotten of left behind. Our nation has an obligation to make sure that those returning from the raw edges of civilization, the battle zones, and the horrors such conflict generates have an opportunity to re-find a world that is wonderful.
White Dog believes the best way to a help vets reconnect to the wonders around us is through grassroots efforts…neighbors reaching out a hand, businesses offering an opportunity, the community creatively finding ways to help. Here is the story of one family who is providing a wonderful chance to those in need…
By Good News Network Saturday, February 11, 2012
A Marine sergeant and his wife have invited dozens of war veterans returning from the front lines to tend the crops and learn new skills, finding solace on their farm.
Archie's Acres grows organic produce in Southern California and teaches veterans how to nurture plants and create business plans to eventually help them become independent in the high growth industry of sustainable agriculture. Over 100 vets have benefitted from the vision of Colin and Karen Archipley.
Colin and Karen developed Archi’s Acres ™, their small family farm, into a working, hydroponic, organic farm that used up to 90% less water and harvested organic produce 17 times a year – twice the conventional yield. They learned how to make “liquid dirt,” and farm bacteria. They sold their living basil to local healthy alternative groceries. They also sold Siberian kale, lettuce, citrus and their avocados at the farmer’s market. They met their neighboring farmers and loved their new life.
Colin knew veterans need help transitioning to civilian life, beyond what the VA can provide. At any given time, there are a quarter of a million veterans living on the streets, in part due to combat stress, and/or the brain injuries that roadside bombs can inflict. That same number of veterans, 250,000, have requested mental health treatment. Sadly, veteran joblessness is twice the national average, at 17%.
“We felt the need to address this issue,” Colin says. “Job opportunities have been few and far between for everybody, and the skills many have learned in the military don’t always translate directly into civilian life. The veteran community is a unique resource,” he adds. “But many U.S. employers aren’t tapping into it. The military teaches great leadership skills, a solid work ethic, and a unique ability to think on your feet.”
Our country needs a million new farmers over the next ten years. According to a USDA 2007 report, 65.8% of small farmer operators are over 55 and only 4.1% percent are younger than 35. Karen adds, “There’s also the challenge of high-tech crop production. Farming is not easy; you have to be able to stay flexible, stay with it, hang tough. Every day is different; it can be an adrenaline rush. Combat vets are really good at that.”
Colin and Karen created the Veterans Sustainability Agriculture Training ™ (VSAT ™). This unique program would recreate the closeness of the unit outside of the military and teach veterans all the farming skills the Archipleys had acquired.
There would also be the health benefits. Six weeks immersed in the VSAT ™ program at Archi’s Acres ™ provides the down time that facilitates a much smoother transition out of urban warfare. Between the classroom and the greenhouses, veterans gather what they need to know to get started on their own. Trainees can interact with the public at Farmer’s Markets, and experience the positive feedback and connection to their mission. Before they leave Archi’s Acres ™ trainees create market plans, checked out by business leaders. And it works…One of the vets now owns his own hot sauce company after being homeless for two years.
Archi's Acres-Colin and Karen Archipley from Raymond Singer on Vimeo.