What is Heroic Food?
Heroic Food is a 501c3 nonprofit organization based in Dutchess County, New York offering farmer training for U.S. military veterans. Our mission is to prepare and train military veterans for careers in sustainable farming, agricultural trades, and food entrepreneurship in a veteran-supportive environment. The goal is to engage more veterans in 2020 — to create pathways to better health and employment in the food production sector.
Through our hands-on workshop and apprenticeship programs, Heroic Food empowers our heroes to serve their communities a second time — as food security is one of the most dangerous threats to America’s freedom. Did you know that America is desperate for new farmers? The average age of our farmers is 59. Older farmers want to retire, but end up selling their land to developers for lack of new farmers to take their place. What does that mean for the availability of farmland, the food to feed our children, and future generations?
Heroic Food offers opportunities, benefits, and support for both beginner and established farmer veterans in the Hudson Valley, as well as for local, family-scale farmers. Our programs are free to veterans. We pay mentor farmers to teach skills-training workshops and lead volunteer work on the farms, for veterans new to farming. We also offer an annual three day farming intensive course called Farm Squad, helping intermediate farmer veterans diversify their income streams, build stronger business plans, and plug into agricultural resources for further support. Along the way, horticultural therapy helps these veterans build roots in their lives as civilians. The transition is not easy, as we all know from the current crisis in the military community — approximately 22 veterans a day fall victim to suicide. Mother Nature can help.
How does a veteran evolve from curious participant to experienced farmer? Our Immersion Program matches Hudson Valley veterans to mentor-farmers seeking apprentices eager to learn. We provide cultural and communications liaison for both farmer and apprentice in order to facilitate a positive outcome on both sides. And as of 2020, we will help qualified mentor farmers pay better wages to their veteran apprentices. Your support of our program is what makes it possible to provide skills training to our veteran apprentices. At the end of their apprenticeships, we will connect our graduates with full time employment on a local farm. And, once a veteran is ready to start his or her own farm, Heroic Food will connect them to top-tier governmental agencies, partnered nonprofits, and educational resources to develop a strong business plan and a way forward as stewards of the land.