ACES: Operation Grow for Military Veterans

By:
0
945
(ACES)

Operation Grow, in partnership with the Alabama Department of AG and Industries, provides special emphasis on the training needs of military veterans interested in agriculture for health and employment benefits. Alabama Beginning Farmer is led by the Alabama Extension commercial horticulture team. Overall, Operation Grow supports grassroots educational and networking efforts that are inclusive of all veterans and their families with universal access to information and resources.

Major objectives

Training – Network – Support for veteran farms

Training. Provide a three-step farm planning support system to military veterans interested in farming using hands-on, on-farm, and digital media-based training (integrate technical, experiential, and social learning for veteran-owned farms).

Network with other veteran support agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for extending current knowledge base and assess future needs.

Sustainable support for veteran farmers with localized multi-agency collaboration to increase farming success. Very soon, beginning veteran farmers may also loan farm equipment as part of the support services.

Want to learn more about Operation Grow? Check out the Alabama Extension publication, “Operation Grow for Beginning Veteran Farmers 2023 Annual Report.” (www.aces.edu/blog/topics/farming/operation-grow-for-beginning-veteran-farmers-annual-report)

Basic registration

To register for Operation Grow, go to https://auburn.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_71aVGZDbxVNKRBs.

If you are a military veteran and interested in establishing a training schedule in your county, contact a commercial horticulture regional Extension agent or county coordinator. Use the Farming Basics mobile app to locate your county-based contacts easily and to connect to a vast array of digital and social media resources such as the Farming Basics online course, a crop, insect, disease, and weed database, as well as social media tools.

For more information on the Alabama Beginning Farmer Program, visit www.AlabamaBeginningFarmer.com. Typically, several personnel from non-governmental organizations, state agencies like Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA), and Extension educators form the local support network for new producers. See Where to Start: A Basic Program Resource Guide for Beginning Farmers for information about technical assistance providers (NGO collaborators) for on-farm assistance with loans and certifications.


Operation Grow Hardware & Equipment Loan Program (OG-HELP)

The Operation Grow Hardware and Equipment Loan Program (OG-HELP) provides farm equipment to designated Alabama counties to offset the upstart cost of agriculture. Equipment will be owned and maintained by the OG-HELP Implementation Team and housed at either a Research & Extension Center or a County Office. Beginning veteran farmers may schedule and return equipment upon agreement, allowing for a sharing/cost-cutting system.

  • Hands-on training
  • Demonstrations
  • Affordable loaning
  • Expert advice

Support Operation Grow

The work of Operation Grow would not be possible without the support of people like you. Please consider making a donation so this important work can continue.

Donations can be made through the Alabama Extension Store at https://tinyurl.com/OPGSACES.  To make a donation, navigate to “Donations & Sponsorships” and then to “Donate to or Sponsor a Program at Alabama Extension.” After entering the amount you wish to donate, click “Add To Cart.” You will then need to complete a form with the following information:

  • Purpose: Operation Grow
  • Name of Extension contact: Ayanava Majumdar
  • Email address of contact: azm0024@auburn.edu

Click “Continue” and then click “Checkout” to make the payment via a credit card.


Project coordination

  • Harli Willis

Thank you to the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, the Alabama Department of Veteran Affairs and the Alabama Indian Affairs Commission, as well as USDA-NIFA, USDA SARE, CPPM/Extension IPM grants for supporting the Alabama Beginning Farmer Program and the Operation Grow project efforts. These efforts have reached over 450 producers directly and many others indirectly making a deep impact on the Alabama’s economy.