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We Empower Heroes to Serve their Communities a Second Time.

YOU CAN HELP, TOO!

ABOUT
HEROIC FOOD
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We''re 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?

 

We offer 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. Paying mentor farmers to teach skills-training workshops , we lead volunteer work on the farms for veterans that are 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.

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.

 

Follow us on social media stay in the loop! We share up-to-date information about what we are doing for veterans and behind the scenes glimpses, as well.

 

CHRIS WELLINGTON

—  Farmer veteran and

Co-owner of Muddy Roots Farm

"I attended a Heroic Food workshop in the summer of 2016. At that point in my life my wife and I were going through a tough time with where our career choices were leading us; we were very unhappy. We were both aching to farm but, up until that summer, we didn't see it as a way to make a living. I was completely immersing myself in books, podcasts and YouTube videos trying to wrap my head around all the new small scale ways of farming. 

 

At the Heroic Food workshop  I was able to connect with other veterans who were also obsessed with new ways of farming. I saw a very clear place for veterans in agriculture. To be completely honest, if I wasn't farming today I would be much worse off mentally. Farming is a place veterans can go where learning will never cease. They'll always be challenged, both physically and mentally. Most importantly, they'll continue to have an opportunity to serve. I was truly inspired by the event and motivated to create a new vision for my future career.

 

The following season both my wife and I quit our jobs and went all in with our farm. We currently produce vegetable on approximately ½ acre. We also raise chickens, turkeys and pigs for meat. We sell to over a dozen restaurants and provide 2 farmers markets with our wares. If Heroic Food was not part of my life, I wouldn't be farming full time today. All we needed was a push in the right direction and reassurance that there's people in our corner - and Heroic Food fulfilled both of those tasks."

 
MEET
OUR TEAM

JASMIN VAZQUEZ

Interim Executive Director

jasmin@heroicfood.com

RYAN O'SULLIVAN

Veteran Program Coordinator

ryan@heroicfood.com

 

Formerly our communications specialist, Jasmin is familiar with our operational procedures and has a genuine passion for Veteran services. With a B.A. in Political Science, Jasmin understands the importance of thinking globally and acting locally. For the last two years she has served our mission by sharing our message; a millennial with tech savvy, her ability to communicate the necessity of our mission has built forward momentum. She feels both farming and serving in the U.S. military are family affairs. Leading Heroic Food is her way of honoring the Veterans in her family; her grandfather and uncle fought in Korea and Vietnam and both siblings are members of the armed forces. 

A U.S. Marine Corps Veteran and farming hopeful, Ryan just recently purchased five acres of land after three years of helping other veterans get into small scale farming. He formerly program manager after a year in service to our community as  Veteran liaison for Congressman Delgado (NYS-D19) in 2019.  Just this year, he was awarded the 40 Under 40 Movers and Shakers Award by Dutchess County's Regional Chamber of Commerce

MEET
OUR BOARD

JENNIFER SOUKUP

Board Member

Having served in the U.S. Army Reserve, Jennifer is a Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom (2005). Following her deployment, Jennifer enrolled at Paul Smiths College in upstate New York and graduated with a degree in Culinary Arts and Service Management in 2010. In 2013, she began to grow her in-laws maple syrup production business and began marketing a myriad of maple products. By 2017, the business had grown the farm to include pumpkin patches, hay mazes, pre-cut Christmas trees, and agri-tourism events.  

JAKLYN VANMANEN

Board Member

Jaklyn joins the Heroic Food board of directors with over 10 years of experience in government, non-profit, and higher education sectors, specializing in strategic engagement. As the daughter of a Coast Guard veteran and as a former employee of the James J. Peters VA Medical Center, Jaklyn cares deeply about honoring and providing opportunities for our nation's veterans. Currently, Jaklyn is the Development Director for the National Young Farmers Coalition, helping young farmers achieve viable farming careers. She resides in the Hudson Valley and enjoys growing food and flowers for her family and friends.

JUSTIN RICCOBONO

Board Member

A US Army Veteran and Farmer in the Hudson Valley, Justin served at ground Zero after the towers fell in 2001.  In 2007, Justin moved out of NYC to return to the region he grew up in and started to get involved in horticulture and farming.  In 2012 he introduced Hop Farming to the Hudson Valley and has designed, built and processed over 20 Hop Farms in the region. Justin’s Family owns a 5 acre Agritourism Farm / Bed and Breakfast in Gardiner, NY.  The farm serves as an educational and wellness Farmstead for veterans and others to learn about sustainable systems. In 2019, the Patchwork Quilt Farm hosted its first Heroic Foods BBQ fundraiser in July. He is currently working on a succession plan to take over his family farm as his parents move into their golden years.

 
CONTACT US
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