Rodale Institute's Veteran Farmer Training Program is in its first year of operation! Our first Veteran, Jeff, came from Apopka, FL to spend the past weeks learning at the farm.
Jeff served in the U.S. Army as a paratrooper assigned to Fort Bragg, NC from 1989 to 1992. He was assigned to Military Intelligence, spending eight months deployed in the Middle East during the Persian Gulf War. Jeff came to the Institute to learn more about post-harvest handling and soil health, in hopes to incorporate his new skills at his two and a half acre farm him and his wife began last year.
Through the Veteran Farmer Training Program, Jeff was able to train in many different departments at Rodale Institute. He learned more about composting from our Master Composter, Rick Carr. Ross Duffield, Farm Manager, taught an intensive class on utilizing hogs in the pasture and gave Jeff one-on-one training on how to feed and water the variety of animals at the Institute. Maggie Saska, Plant Production Specialist, taught Jeff how important seeding and transplanting are for growing in a Greenhouse. Cynthia James, ASC Program Manager, allowed Jeff to work alongside the ASC interns, Brian, Julia, Laura, Mark, and Nicole, to learn more about seed to harvest in the field. Likewise, Jeff worked alongside Dan Kemper, Strategic Support Team member, having any and all questions answered with great enthusiasm. Jeff also had the opportunity to take part in the final phases of the construction of a high tunnel, learning a great deal under the tutelage of Mike Schmaeling, Facilities Team Member, who also is our Resident Beekeeper. As Resident Beekeeper, Mike took Jeff on a personal, educational tour of our Honey Bee Conservancy.
During his time here, Jeff visited Rodale Institute's Organic Farm at St. Luke’s Hospital, spending an intensive day of learning with Lynn Trizna, Rodale Institute St. Luke’s Organic Farm Project Manager. Dr. Gladis Zaniti, Associate Research Scientist, and Dr. Andrew Smith, Research Director for VST, also spent invaluable time with Jeff, explaining the passion and purpose of their research at the Institute. Stacy Glackin, Grants Manager, was kind enough to spend time with Jeff, teaching him how to research and write grants for his own farm. Lastly, Justin Barclay, Veteran Farming Program Coordinator, worked tirelessly to bridge these connections for Jeff so that he could make the most of his short time at Rodale Institute.
Along with hands-on training amongst experts, Jeff was also most excited to see a BSC tractor in action; a small scale tool he could use on his own farm. Jeff deeply appreciates all that he has learned at the Institute and is very thankful for the staff and interns that took the time to teach him. If you or someone you know is a Veteran interested in a career in organic agriculture, contact Justin Barclay at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Rodale Institute's Veteran Farmer Training Program, visit rodaleinstitute.org/veterans/.