Veterans: Tap Into Your Own Skills, Be Your Own Boss

woman farmer in field using a cell phoneMaine AgrAbility provides veterans with the skills they need to be their own agribusiness bosses. “Veterans are well-suited to working in agriculture for several reasons: work ethic, dedication, perseverance, creativity, and resilience,” says Anne Devin, Maine AgrAbility Farmer Veteran outreach coordinator.

Maine AgrAbility’s Boots-2-Bushels 30-week program launched this past January includes classes taught by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, and field work designed to help veterans and their families transition into agriculture careers.

“It takes participants from seed-to-salary in a hands-on and realistic project. The program scheduled 10 weeks of classroom instruction that include cultural practices of growing fruits and vegetables for market, as well as business skills required to sustain a farm business. This knowledge was then planned to be used in an intensive six month growing season to provide food for their families, other veterans, and local food bank communities,” says Leilani Carlson, Maine AgrAbility coordinator.

When the pandemic hit, instructors added lessons about how to use technology to pivot to online sales. Instead of customers being able to see and touch the produce at their farms or farmers’ markets before selecting, students learned how to create an online menu and ordering platform so customers can pre-order what they’d like, use contactless pay and arrange for curbside pick-up.

Read the entire article by Victoria Lim at Inquire Within, WorkingNation, September 2020.