Before the Homegrown By Heroes label was established by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture in January 2013, there wasn’t an industry recognized way for farmer veterans to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. A few short years later, with a rapidly growing farmer veteran community spanning all 50 states plus Puerto Rico, Farmer Veteran Coalition is excited to announce the Homegrown By Heroes label has surpassed 1,000 certified-producers.
Marine veteran Daniel Wavle became the 1,000th Homegrown By Heroes member on June 8 when he certified his operation, Shoshana Shalom Farms in Hondo, Texas, with the label. Wavle, who served more than 14 years in the Marines which included two deployments in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, currently raises goats and chickens and is in the process of building an aquaponics greenhouse for vegetable and tilapia production.
Military veterans turned farmers from around the country received a major boost today as Farmer Veteran Coalition announced $200,000 in new awards for the Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund. Fifty farmer veterans representing all military branches and multiple service-eras were notified via email that they were awarded a 2017 Fellowship, bringing the total amount awarded in the program’s history to more than $1.5 million.
Established in 2011, the Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund provides direct assistance to veterans who are in the early stages of their farming operations. With awards ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, purchases are made to third-parties on behalf of the veteran for critical items such as breeding livestock, used tractors, greenhouses, irrigation systems and more. This year’s awards range from supplies to build a barn for Army veteran Michael Reynolds in Georgia to an egg washer for Air Force veteran Nathan Layton in Pennsylvania.