Thanks to support from Newman's Own Foundation, veterans are discovering new career opportunities in farming and ranching.
Farmer Veteran Coalition works with veterans in food and farming communities throughout the U.S. by providing farming education and assistance. They equip veterans with the tools and skills needed to serve their country in a new way. Veterans bring their unique skills and character to build up rural communities and create sustainable food systems.
Nate Looney is part of a new wave of veterans embarking on careers in agriculture after returning home from serving their country overseas. Nate had previously served in the Louisiana National Guard, helping in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In 2008, he was deployed to Iraq. After eight years of honorable service, Looney separated from the National Guard and went back to school and earned a degree in business. Looney became interested in agriculture and began growing vegetables as a hobby.
"Food security in general, and penetrating food deserts is an all-encompassing battle. Who better to fight than seasoned soldiers? We understand duty, service and dedication in the same way that our current aging farming population does," Looney said.
Nate reached out to Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC) about an opportunity at Ouroboros Farms, a commercial aquaponics and permaculture farm in Half Moon Bay, California. FVC was able to develop a three-month program with Ouroboros Farms, where Looney learned about aquaponics while receiving a stipend to help with expenses.
"Having the hands-on experience gave me the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of running a commercial aquaponics farm, in addition to giving me invaluable industry experience," said Nate. "It also gave me the confidence to pursue my endeavors as an aquaponics urban farmer."
FVC works with veterans in the food and farming community in all 50 states and U.S. Territories to provide farming education and veteran assistance to those in need.