Future Organic Farmer: Michael Lupaccino


Michael Lupacchino is an Army and Coast Guard veteran with a combined 16 years of service. Lupacchino served four years with the Coast Guard as an electronic technician. After leaving the Coast Guard in 1998, he used his G.I. Bill to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Central Connecticut State University.

In 2005, he returned to the military as an Army officer, where he was stationed in South Korea with the 1st-72nd Armor Battalion. Lupacchino was then attached to the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion where he served two deployments in Afghanistan and was awarded the Bronze Star and a Combat Action Badge.

In 2017, Michael was diagnosed with Meniere's Disease six months before he retired from his military career. Meniere’s Disease is a disorder of the inner ear that causes severe cases of vertigo (dizziness), pressure or pain in the ear, and potential hearing loss. Meniere’s Disease hinders one’s ability to drive and operate heavy machinery and limited Mike’s career options following the military. While browsing the internet, he discovered the concept of urban farming and producing high yields on limited acreage. The concept of farming with low input and high returns resonated with him.

 

Due to the toll the military had put on his body, Lupacchino became interested in regenerative agriculture to heal both himself and the soil. Searching for training programs, he found a veteran farming program in California that offered a course in hydroponics. After completing the course, he then sought out an in-depth training program in organic agriculture to expand his abilities and later enrolled in the Organic Farming Certification Program.

While enrolled in the program, Mike has gained valuable knowledge to prepare for his future farm system. Since beginning the program, Mike has completed courses in permaculture design and mushroom farming, as well as attend a Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) conference, where he learned about forest farming. In between class sessions, Lupacchino interns at the Laughing Lady Flower Farm and has gained hands-on experience with day-to-day operations of a flower farm, including preparing flower arrangements for weddings.

Due to his condition, Mike has to use farming methods that require minimal use of large machinery. By studying different farm systems and completing several courses, Mike has been able to evaluate different techniques that accommodate his needs. After completing the program in the summer 2018 semester, Mike is determined to establish a two acre regenerative organic flower farm in Ferrum, Virginia, where he plans to grow a variety of flowers, mushrooms, and herbs. “My disease will not limit my income potential because with farming, I am the boss.”

Are you ready to be your own boss?

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Organic Farming Certificate Program             Veteran Farmer Training Program

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