EBS STAFF

Military veterans interested in running a farm are encouraged to apply for a weeklong Armed to Farm program offered by the National Center for Appropriate Technology.

The program, scheduled for Aug. 29-Sep. 2, will give veterans and their spouses an opportunity to see sustainable, profitable small-scale farming enterprises and examine farming as a viable career.

Given the number of veterans living in Montana—more per capita than any other state—and the fact that many Montana vets come from rural backgrounds, the program has a lot of potential, says Tammy Howard, a sustainable agriculture specialist with NCAT.

“The other Armed to Farm trainings we’ve done throughout the U.S. have been really successful at helping veterans learn the important skills needed for getting a farm started,” said Howard, adding that in addition to being an employment venture, the experience can be therapeutic for veterans.

The program includes a mix of classroom training at Great Falls College and hands-on projects at local farms. Topics covered will include business planning, budgeting, recordkeeping and marketing as well as basics of livestock, vegetable and grain production.

Approximately half of the week will be spent at several local farms so participants can get a feel for the type of farming that best suits them—whether that’s specialty grain production, a livestock operation or a market garden.

Applications are due July 22, and the program is free for those chosen to attend. Lodging, transportation to local farms and most meals will be provided. Participants must pay their own travel costs to and from the event.

Spouses are encouraged to apply as well because running a farm will impact their lives even if they are not directly involved.

Howard said she’s surprised at how many people have applied so far, noting that the program is capped at 30 participants and they’ve already received more than 30 applications.

Two later trainings are scheduled: a 2017 training in Missoula and a 2018 training in Kalispell.

Since 1976, the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) has been helping people by championing small-scale, local and sustainable solutions to reduce poverty, promote healthy communities and protect natural resources. In partnership with businesses, organizations, individuals and agricultural producers, NCAT is working to advance solutions that will ensure the next generation inherits a world that has clean air and water, energy production that is efficient and renewable, and healthy foods grown with sustainable practices.

More information about NCAT’s programs and services is available at ncat.org or by calling (800) 275-6228.