When I first heard about the Farmer Veteran Coalition, a non-profit that connects military Veterans with farming, I thought, “Wow – how random and specific.” Then I found out about the rural nature of today’s military and Veteran population. Many people from small farming communities join the military, leaving their family farms to serve their country and see the world. After their service, many of these Veterans return home to the rural communities they know and love. In addition to returning to rural farms, the Veterans are starting their own farming operations on the borders of big cities and even starting urban gardens in the heart of our greatest metropolises. I also learned that a lot of these Veterans are women…like me.

Female Veterans comprise 15% of today’s military and make up a rapidly growing segment of the US veteran population. More than ever, they are pursuing careers and independent business ventures, often utilizing their diverse skills from military service. Many of these women are starting careers in food and farming – as chefs, ranchers, organic vegetable producers, and even mentors for inner city kids at community gardens. In all honesty, I can’t even keep my tomato plants alive, but I can proudly say that I am joining the effort by working at the Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC).

This summer we are organizing a conference for women Veterans about business and agriculture. This event is the first of its kind, and it seeks to bring our often dispersed women Veteran population together. With the help of the USDA Risk Management Agency, Annie’s Project and Oxfam America, FVC is hosting the “Empowering Women Veterans: Business, Agriculture & Well-Being” conference in Davis, Ca on July 7-8, 2012. We are hoping to draw a diverse crowd, from both rural and urban communities and from all branches and service eras. At this conference, women leaders in business and agriculture will speak to female Veteran participants about the challenges faced by women, tools to mitigate risk in their agricultural ventures, and available programs to help women farmers succeed. Educational topics will include the RMA five areas of risk (production, price (market), financial, legal, and personal); business structure and farm contracts; an introduction to Quicken Software (with free software); loans, debt & credit; direct marketing; and farm labor. This conference will raise awareness of the attendees’ national and local benefits and resources, and will address their needs both as Veterans and as farmers.

They say there is strength in numbers, so how great would it be to stay connected and to support one another with farming and agriculture advice? It is my hope that this conference will act as a catalyst for that support system.

Tia Christopher is a Navy Veteran.  She speaks nationally on issues facing women Veterans and transitioning military personnel. She serves as Director of the Farmer Veteran Coalition Fellowship Fund in Davis, CA.

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Published on May. 11, 2012

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4 Comments

  1. Mary-Kay Bono, SFC (Ret.) May 24, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    I think this is an excellent topic. I am a female veteran, and I am very seriously contemplating entering the agricultural profession. I have even located a small farm near my home which would be perfect for what I want to do. However, there is no way I could get out to California. Will any of the events be held on the east coast in the near future? I live in New Jersey and would be extremely happy to attend if one were held near here. Thank you.

    • Tia May 29, 2012 at 2:32 pm

      Hey – just email us at info@farmvetco.org and I can give you information on events like this closer to you and hook you up with some of our partners in your area, Tia

  2. Loretta B. Coleman May 17, 2012 at 8:37 am

    I will definitely help spread the word! Hope the conference is a huge success.

  3. Kirsten May 15, 2012 at 3:13 am

    Thanks for posting! I’m an Air Force Veteran and looking to start my own agri-related business! :) Appreciate what you’re doing and wish I could attend. Aloha!

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