Mission: To empower military veterans to grow food, communities, and each other.
Vision: To end the isolation that leads to suicide and make sustainable agriculture the norm.
Since 2012, Growing Veterans has been combining veteran reintegration with sustainable agriculture. Our unique model addresses the growing desire for alternative therapies for Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), as well as suicide prevention through peer-support and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) certification. We encourage continued service through volunteerism, and collective impact through collaboration with other local, regional, and national stakeholders. We provide opportunities for vets in transition to develop their resumes and identify how to translate skills learned in the military to new roles in the civilian sector. Further, our vets serve as leaders in the important movement toward sustainable agriculture.
Our organization’s model has been demonstrated effective through research by the federal VA’s Health Services Research & Development (HSR&D) Center of Innovation of Disability and Rehabilitation Research (CINDRR), funded by the VA’s Office of Rural Health. It has been recognized locally by WA State Governor Jay Inslee, as well as nationally for innovation on the Hill Vets 100 list and as awardees of the J.M. Kaplan Fund Innovation Prize.
In 2015, over 500 of our veteran and community volunteer members (60% veterans, 40% family members and community supporters), produced 32,000 pounds of food, distributing most of it through our Farmers Market stand at the regional VA Hospital in Seattle, Washington; the first of its kind in the nation. We donated 6,200 pounds of organic vegetables to low-income veterans, local food banks, and organizations who feed the homeless. We hosted 137 events across the Puget Sound region for a total of 4,396 volunteer hours and an economic impact of $101,415 (based off the National Standard rate for volunteer hours of $23.07). We also hosted groups of disadvantaged youth to provide them with positive role models and teach them about where their food comes from.
Veterans increasingly transition into farming in an evolving trend, as more leave active duty and seek solace in working the land. This growing trend of veterans becoming farmers is reflected in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recent initiatives to include set-aside funds for beginning veteran farmers, and their collaboration with the Department of Defense in providing USDA information to transitioning service members. Growing Veterans can identify resources and provide opportunities to help them pursue farming as a viable career and be more effective at engaging community and their fellow veterans.
Using the farm as the catalyst, we provide opportunities for veteran peer support and broader community engagement; creating a holistic solution to a multitude of issues the veteran population faces. Join us.