Mission, Purpose & Therapy From Farming: Farm Education & Training

Researched by C. Orlowski & R. MacDougall. Written by R. MacDougall.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says Veterans bring a wide range of experiences and a strong work ethic to farming.

In 2016 AgCareers.com asked agricultural employers about challenges faced when hiring Veterans. When there were challenges, the reason given most often was that Veterans lacked experience and knowledge about the agricultural industry.

To help bridge that experience and knowledge gap, various organizations provide opportunities to Veterans who want to learn about farming. Some programs pay participants as they receive on-the-job training. Other programs are free or low cost. Some offer scholarships.

This article, the second in our Mission, Purpose, & Therapy From Farming series, presents some of the farm training programs available to Veterans.

NOTE:  Know A Vet does not endorse or guarantee any of the programs mentioned here. We include them for information purposes.

The Next Mission: Breaking Down Barriers for Veterans in Agriculture

AgrAbility is a USDA-funded program. It provides education, assistance, and support to all military Veterans interested in transitioning into farming or other agriculture careers. It also supports farmers and ranchers with disabilities.

    • Veterans & Beginning Farmers – this AgrAbility site includes resources specifically for Veterans. It includes a list of organizations offering training and employment services to Veterans, resource guides, and other assistance for beginning farmers.
    • Services in Your State – search for AgrAbility projects and other services by state.
    • Training & Events – provides access to in-person and online training and events.

Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture runs the Veteran Farmer Program on Arcadia Farm in Alexandria, Virginia. This program has three learning paths:

    • Veteran Farm Fellowship Program
      – nine-month, intensive, on-farm training
      paid participation. In addition to a salary, Veterans may qualify for on-the-Job training stipends through Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Labor
      – Veterans produce a viable business plan for their own farms or agriculture businesses when they complete the program
      – the application process requires a cover letter, resume, and references
    • Veteran Farmer Reserve Program
      – for Veterans interested in exploring agriculture without committing to a full-time program
      fee-based but Arcadia states Full and Partial Scholarships Please do not let the cost prevent you from applying.”
      – 12-month program that meets one weekend a month, with an additional service-learning commitment of 40 hours of hands-on farm work at Arcadia during the training year
    • Veteran Farm Incubator
      – open to graduates of Arcadia’s training programs, and other Veterans on a case-by-case basis
      – provides access to land, water for irrigation, shared equipment, and additional shared infrastructure to support the incubator farmers.
      – for the three years an incubator farm is in residency, Arcadia staff assist with advice, technical consulting and other services

Armed To Farm provides hands-on and classroom training in sustainable agriculture to Veterans. It offers three training series:

    • Armed To Farm Flagship – weeklong hands-on and classroom training for new farmer Veterans. Gain direct experience on livestock, vegetable, fruit, and agritourism operations.
    • Armed To Farm 2.0 – advanced sustainable agriculture training for Veterans who have completed a previous weeklong session.
    • Armed To Urban Farm – focuses on Veterans who are new farmers in urban areas.

Training opportunities occur in different locations throughout the year. Contact Armed To Farm for locations and information on free and/or cost-based opportunities.

Learn more about Armed To Farm in this video:

Center for Land-based Learning offers an apprenticeship program and other programs via the California Farm Academy.

    • Explorer Course
      – helps participants decide whether starting an agricultural business is right for them. Based on that decision, it helps plan practical next steps
      – takes place on Saturday’s over 7 weeks
    • Beginning Farmer Training Program
      – provides aspiring farmers a foundation from which to launch and grow their own farm businesses
      – seven months long
      – lessons focus on crop production, business planning and marketing, and culminate in a personal business plan
      fee-based with payment assistance for Veterans. It encourages Veterans to apply.
    • Farm Business Incubator
      – provides access to land, tools, infrastructure, and ongoing training to beginning small scale farmers
      – participants begin their farm enterprises, experiment with production techniques, and develop markets. They refine their business plans with support from mentors.

Learn more about the Center for Land-based Learning apprenticeship program in this video:

Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship (DGA) provides funding support for Veterans interested in learning about managed grazing dairy production, farm business management, and conservation stewardship.

    • Stipends are available to Veterans who have been hired as an Apprentice by an approve Mentor Dairy Grazier and have officially enrolled in the program.
    • Tuition reimbursement is available to all Veterans for classes taken through Managed Grazing Innovation Center (MGIC). This includes those who are Apprentices, Interns, Apprentice Candidates, and MGIC students.

Fields4Valor provides a paid apprenticeship program for Post 9/11 Veterans interested in working in agriculture or in starting their own small-scale diversified farm.

    • This program:
      pays a monthly stipend for 12 months of completed work
      – open to Post 9/11 Veterans able to commit to two (2) 8–10-hour days of farm work per week for 12 months
      – grows and deliver vegetables, eggs, and honey to Veteran families in the Washington, D.C. area
      – houses and employs Veterans

Heroes to Hives (H2H) offers professional training in beekeeping to Veterans through two free programs:

    • Online program:
      – 9-module course presented through pre-recorded lecture videos, instructional videos, articles, and quizzes
      – self-paced
      – spouses and children (18 years of age and up) of participants are eligible to participate
      – focused on beekeeping in Michigan but Veterans anywhere gain knowledge on honey bee biology, colony biology, pest and pathogen management, and overwintering
      – credit can be transferred to Great Plains Master Beekeeping
    •  On-ground training:
      – held in Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, and Nebraska
      – typically runs April-October
      – covers hive handling, colony inspections, pest and pathogen management, and beekeeping ergonomics
      – students can choose to participate in one or many sessions
      – peer network of Veteran beekeepers
Air Force Veteran Torrie Condet inspects a frame of bees

Little Farms for Veterans (LFV) provides training to aid Veterans and their families in developing their future farm.

    • LFV program features include:
      – total immersion training
      – students live onsite for one calendar year. They learn planning, planting, stock management, harvesting crops, food processing, marketing, sales, and other agricultural activities.
      – helps graduates with farm acquisition and maintenance

Veterans To Farmers helps Veterans to assimilate into civilian life through training in farming activities. Training takes place in Colorado. It is free to Veterans from any state or territory, except for lodging and transportation. It offers three programs:

    • Market Farming
      – 21-week program with a paid stipend
      – focuses on small-scale organic vegetable production
      – work and train with farm staff, tour other local farms, and review the farm’s business plan as a group
    • Hydroponics
      – 10-week program with a paid stipend
      – teaches techniques used to grow food in greenhouses or indoors using hydroponics
      – training hours are split between on-the-job training and classroom time
    • Urban Farming
      – a series of classes for Veterans with a backyard.
      – learn about raised bed gardens, seed saving, botany, and basic hydroponics
      – all urban farming classes are free for Veterans & Family Members

Graduates of the Market Farming and Hydroponics programs receive a Certificate of Completion recognized by Colorado State University’s Extension Office.

Veterans to Farmers Video: Why Veterans Belong in Agriculture

National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (ATTRA) provides the searchable ATTRA Sustainable Internship and Apprenticeship Database.

    • Internships/apprenticeships are on-the-job training opportunities. The database is searchable by state and keyword (like ‘veteran’). ATTRA also provides free online access to information and research on a wide range of sustainable agriculture topics.

The Rodale Institute  offers its Veteran Farmer Training program at the Rodale Institute Headquarters in Kutztown, Pennsylvania.

    • This program:
      – provides immersive, paid training in organic farming
      – is flexible: two season options: 8-16 weeks or 35 weeks
      – is 100% hands-on instruction in all areas of farm operations
Veteran Farming Training at the Rodale Institute

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) supports Veterans in farming and agriculture. It offers help through SCORE and a website for Veterans.

    • SCORE connects farmers and ranchers to free mentoring, training workshops, and online resources. SCORE provides ‘Request a Mentor’ and live chat features to help match farmers with local mentors.
    • USDA’s Veterans Website provides links for Veterans looking to learn more about education, employment, and entrepreneur opportunities on or beyond the farm.

The next article in our Mission, Purpose & Therapy From Farming series will focus on business resources and support available to Veteran farmers.


Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture. (n.d.) Our Programs. Arcadiafood. Retrieved August 16, 2022, from http://arcadiafood.org/

Center for Land-Based Learning. (n.d.). Beginning Farmer and Ranch Management Apprenticeship Program. Land-based Learning. Retrieved August 16, 2022, from https://landbasedlearning.org/farm-academy-apprentice.php

Center for Land-Based Learning. (n.d.). California Farm Academy. Land-based Learning. Retrieved August 16, 2022, from https://landbasedlearning.org/farm-academy-apprentice.php

Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship. (n.d.). Veteran Resources. DGA. Retrieved August 20, 2022, from https://www.dga-national.org/program/resources/veteran-resources

Fields 4 Valor Farms. (n.d.) Apprenticeship Program. Fields4Valor. Retrieved August 16, 2022, from https://fields4valor.org/apprentice-program/

Help for Farmers and Ranchers from USDA and SCORE. (n.d.). SCORE. Retrieved August 14, 2022, from https://www.score.org/usda

Heroes to Hives. (n.d.). Michigan State University. Retrieved August 16, 2022, from https://www.canr.msu.edu/veterans/veterans-programming/Heroes-to-Hives/

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. (n.d.) National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (ATTRA). Sustainable Agriculture.  Retrieved August 16, 2022, from, https://sustainableagriculture.net/publications/grassrootsguide/sustainable-organic-research/national-sustainable-agriculture-information-service-nsais-attra/

Our Mission. (n.d.). Little Farms for Veterans. Retrieved August 17, 2022, from  https://littlefarmsforveterans.org/about-us/

Penning, Kristine. (2016, November 11). Military Veterans in Agriculture: Why Ag Employers Want to Hire Veterans. AgCareers. https://blog.agcareers.com/career-cultivation/military-veterans-in-agriculture-why-ag-employers-want-to-hire-veterans/

Saeli, N.& Colvin, B. (n.d.). Farm Ops. Small Farms. Retrieved August 14, 2022, from https://smallfarms.cornell.edu/projects/farm-ops/

Sustainable Agriculture Training for Military Veterans. (n.d.). Armed to Farm. Retrieved August 16, 2022, from https://www.armedtofarm.org/

Sustainable Farming Courses for Veterans. (n.d.). Veterans to Farmers. (Retrieved August 14, 2022, from https://www.veteranstofarmers.org/

United States Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). AgrAbility. USDA. Retrieved August 16, 2022, from https://www.nifa.usda.gov/grants/programs/farm-safety/agrability

United States Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). USDA Supports America’s Heroes. USDA. Retrieved August 16, 2022, from https://www.usda.gov/our-agency/initiatives/veterans

 Veteran Farmer Training. (n.d.). Rodale Institute. Retrieved August 18, 2022, from  https://rodaleinstitute.org/education/training-programs/veteran-farmer-training/

6 thoughts on “Mission, Purpose & Therapy From Farming: Farm Education & Training”

  1. Greetings! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could locate a captcha plugin for my comment form? I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having trouble finding one? Thanks a lot!


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