The Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC) has added three veterans to the Fellowship Fund program, to support their farm businesses and ease their transition into agriculture. The Farmer Veteran Coalition Fellowship Fund is a program that assists veterans starting their food and farming careers through mentorships, donated equipment and supplies, and small grants. In addition to the small grants, FVC provides veterans with personal assistance through farming and financial mentorships.
Justen, an Army veteran and current National Guardsman, owns and operates Veteran Compost LLC, the only permitted facility in Maryland for composting food waste and the only producer in that state of vermicompost and compost worms. Justen hopes to establish additional composting facilities across the East Coast and hire veterans to run these satellite facilities. An innovator in agriculture, Justen is one of FVC’s first Newman’s Own Veteran Innovators in Agriculture (NOVIA) award recipients.
Army veteran Brett operates Serenity Valley Farm, outside Pittsburg, PA, where he and his wife grow vegetables, fruit trees and are starting a beef cattle herd. Due to a high demand for locally raised meat products in his area, Brett plans to expand his operation to include meat rabbits and broiler hens. The NOVIA grant has allowed Brett to purchase a hoop house, which will protect the animals year round and also offer space for starting vegetable transplants.
Anna served eight years in the Army before beginning Chestnut Ridge Farm in North Carolina. Chestnut Ridge Farm is a 10-acre family farm comprised of a fruit and nut orchard that integrates pork, chicken and turkeys into their agro-ecosystem. As the first female fellow of the 2012 Bob Woodruff Grant, Anna will receive assistance to purchase fencing for her orchard and finance a water management project.