Returning Veterans Find a New Path in Sustainable Agriculture

Swapping army greens for greenhouses, vets are transitioning to life as civilians.
Veterans return to civilian life with the help of a sustainable farming network. (Photo: Lisa Norwood/Creative Commons)
Oct 5, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Megan Bedard is a sucker for sustainable agriculture and a good farmers market, she likes writing about food almost as much as eating it.

For returning veterans of war, adjusting to civilian life can be scary and overwhelming. In Pueblo, Colorado, the transition has become a little easier for some with the help of Veterans to Farmers program at sustainable agriculture nonprofit Circle Fresh Farms.

Seeking to help veterans adjust while also putting produce into the community, Circle Fresh Farms offers classroom and training areas for veterans that utilize hydroponic, aquaponic and organic technologies to grow healthy crops.

The farm's founder, Buck Adam, is a veteran himself. "I started this venture because I'm a veteran of the Marine Corps and understand the challenges involved in adjusting back to civilian life after a tour," Adams told The Fence Post.

For vets like Adam Cutlip, the opportunity made all the difference. Before connecting with Circle Fresh Farms, Cutlip dreamed of operating a commercial greenhouse, but lacked the agricultural experience to get his idea off the ground. Through paid, on-the-job training at Circle Fresh Farms, he can bone up on crop productions techniques without having to also consider sourcing supplies or marketing. The program is comprised of 15 modules, from botany and plant physiology to animal husbandry.

While veterans learn to farm, Circle Fresh Farms takes care of selling and distributing the farm's harvest, fulfilling its mission of providing local, organic, and traceable produce to the community. The farm teems with plum zebra tomatoes, miniature white cucumbers, King Arthur peppers, melons, lettuces and eggplants—all backed with a commitment to use no harmful chemicals and no genetically modified seeds.

When Cutlip finishes with the program, he plans to buy his own greenhouse and join the network of farmers who belong to Circle Fresh Farms.

"My most important goal is to build a business that is not only profitable but self-sustaining, efficient, educational, and an enjoyable place to work," he told The Fence Post. "I want to feed people nutrient dense, fresh, wholesome unprocessed food at affordable prices."