Nutrition for the Body and Soul: Bringing Healthy Food Closer to Home

Every individual and community should have access to healthy food. However, access to fresh food may be difficult or nonexistent, especially in low-income communities. This lack of fresh food can lead to health problems such as diabetes and obesity, which the American Medical Association (AMA) has recently recognized as a disease.

To eliminate these “food deserts,” our veterans and other community organizations have come up with innovative solutions to develop sustainable food systems that will benefit local populations.

Supermarkets: An Oasis in Food Deserts

Nutritious eating has been found to be closely linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases. Research has also found that the presence of a supermarket in a neighborhood leads to an increased percentage of residents meeting nutritional guidelines.

Organizations such as the California FreshWorks Fund (CAFWF), a public-private partnership loan fund, aims to increase access to healthy food in underserved communities by providing loans and flexible credit to grocers and distributors to help them overcome the high costs of entering food deserts and to support innovations in healthy food retailing.

According to CAFWF, fewer supermarkets and retail outlets are available in low-income communities. Not only that, but the presence of grocery stores in these communities has been found to create an average of 24.3 new jobs per 10,000 square feet of retail grocery space.

Access to nutritious food makes up just one part of a thriving, healthy community; but it can also play a role in stimulating economic activity and leave lasting benefits for the local population.

A Community Garden of Nutrition and Change

Our veterans are also making a meaning impact in providing healthy food to their local communities. Among them is our Farmer Veteran Kelly Carlisle. After serving as an Operations Specialist in the US Navy and Navy Reserve, Kelly returned home to East Oakland, California where she found gardening to have a therapeutic effect. Channeling her sense of duty toward her country into her local community, Kelly cofounded Acta Non Verba, a non-profit urban farm that focuses on serving at-risk youth. Along with providing a safe and creative outdoor space for children and youth, Acta Non Verba provides fresh and affordable produce to an underserved community, while also raising seed money for college funds for participating children and teens.

Childhood obesity and school dropout rates are abnormally high in East Oakland. With Acta Non Verba, Kelly hopes to use her urban farming project as a catalyst to improve the standard of living and create a healthier future for East Oakland youth—something that as a mother, Kelly feels very strongly about.

And thanks to joining the Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund as a Bon Appétit Good Food Fellow, Kelly can expand the work she’s doing with Acta Non Verba. She was able to recently buy a pickup truck—a necessity for her urban garden—and she plans to start a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project in her local community, establish a farmers market on site, and begin community classes teaching topics such as composting, cooking, basic gardening, and more.

Through her garden, Kelly explains that she can “feed a certain number of families, but more importantly, the amount of people who will be soothed and inspired by the process is a far reaching goal that has a much larger impact on our society.”

A healthy lifestyle is fostered by a variety of factors. Chief among them is access to nutritious, fresh food. In populations that lack access to produce and proper health education, something as simple—yet powerful—as a community garden or a local grocery store can positively impact the entire community.

To learn more about how to contribute to the healthy food movement, contact us.


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    Our own Michele Pfannenstiel, President FVC Maine, made a visit to Dick Royer's Farm last week. While there she was able to snap a few pictures of him and his wife.  Earlier in the month we were able to connect him with with Chet Bennetts, Director of Farm Development, to assist in business planning for his farm.


    "I just received the one page business plan from Chet. He told me he was sending it to me what I thought was a form or a sheet of paper to fill out turns out to be a 90+ page workbook and a cd! Wow I am so glad to have found you guys! I finally think I maybe on the right path to getting my farm on a good footing. Thank you so so much for your help..." 

    - Dick Royer


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  • Mar 18th, 2014
  • object(WP_Post)#374 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(2320) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "9" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2014-03-02 08:13:45" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2014-03-02 14:13:45" ["post_content"]=> string(34748) " The Farmer Veteran Coalition cordially invites all women veterans, active duty, and women farming with veterans to participate in the Empowering Women Veterans Conference. This event will focus on equipping women veterans with the business and farming tools they need to begin and achieve their entrepreneurial goals. Over 100 women will be brought together from around the country to make new friends and form community. Register today! Join us for this unique opportunity by registering here: Conference Registration" ["post_title"]=> string(80) "You are Invited to the Southern California Empowering Women Veterans Conference!" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(70) "you-are-invited-to-the-2nd-annual-empowering-women-veterans-conference" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2014-05-02 22:38:50" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2014-05-03 03:38:50" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(32) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "5" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } NULL
  • Mar 2nd, 2014
  • object(WP_Post)#367 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(2964) ["post_author"]=> string(2) "12" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2014-02-28 13:34:39" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2014-02-28 19:34:39" ["post_content"]=> string(2121) "

    Frederick “Fred” John Fleming, whose namesake includes both sets of great-grandfathers, is now entering the latest chapter in his lucrative agribusiness career: the hand-off to the next generation. Fred is ready to train and assist someone in taking over his 32-year old seed company, Reardan Seed Co., Inc. located in the state of Washington. The succession will not be following lineage lines.


    The two Fleming adult children, now in successful professions other than farming (healthcare and education), are not interested in any of the four agribusinesses Fred and his wife, Vicki, manage: the Lazy Y J Farms (est. 1888); Shepherd’s Grain; the Reardan Seed Co., Inc.; and their latest start-up, Rhizoterra, Inc., a soil preparation company.


    Fred, always a forward-thinker, is a step-ahead of the farming crisis: a third of US farmers are older than 65 and retiring. His plan of action is to reach out now and make an investment with an individual who is interested in agriculture. Fred has already proven successful at integrating a non-family member into the management of the Lazy Y L Farms business. Now the Fleming’s are reaching out to Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC) in their search for a hard-working individual to manage and, eventually, over time own Reardon Seed.


    Why FVC? Fred says it best: “I’m a veteran, as were both my parents, and I know that a veteran will have the necessary drive to work hard.” A hardworking individual isn’t all Fred is looking for because the right fit for Reardan Seed also includes a background and strong interest in agriculture, not necessarily farming, but perhaps experience in life sciences or agronomy.


    If you’re interested in making a lifelong commitment to building an already successful ag-related business and have fun doing it, then you want to talk to Fred. He can be reached at:

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  • Feb 28th, 2014