Veterans get new mission on the farm
Below is a summary for the article : Veterans get new mission on the farm by The Wilson Times
Elliott, executive director of The Veterans Farm of North Carolina, will speak to the Wilson County Extension Master Gardeners on Monday.
The 37-year-old Marine veteran considers himself lucky to now live and farm on 850 acres of property near Louisburg where he grew up.
“When I grew up, I watched bankruptcies happen, everything on the farm get sold off in the ’80s and ’90s and I watched the trials and tribulations of an American farmer,” Elliott said.
Growing up on a farm was not attractive at all to Elliott as a young man.
“I had to do something other than farm and that’s why I chose the military. I served five years in the Marines and then I was a contractor for them,” Elliott said.
“With the median age of farmers being 58 years old, there is not a very interested generation to come back into agriculture. Most people who are my age or younger, they see the hardships on the farm when they grow up on one and they don’t want to go through that with their families when they get to be of age and most of them are going to cities and looking for bigger and better jobs that are going to pay well and not be such a life of hardship.”
Elliott said his job today is to help veterans learn about jobs in agriculture that are not only sustainable, but also conventional and profitable, to show them how to make a living and find solace on the farms after a life of military duty.
“They all tend to have the same needs. Veterans are so disconnected to the agricultural community today that they all need to have a basic introduction to agriculture and then they need mentors to keep them going and some assistance programs, because getting into farming can be very tough. They need solid directions and guidance from people who have been there and done that and know some of the ins and outs.”
“Myself and quite a few other veterans across the U.S. worked together to develop new ideas and help each other and other veterans in our own individual states,” Elliott said.
“A lot of these vets are coming into farming and they are buying land. They are buying a home. They are having to buy equipment, and all of this stuff starts to really add up. It’s very expensive to get into farming. What we are trying to do is figure out ways to alleviate some of those costs and assist vets in building a farm.”
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