November 2014

Ralph Salisbury

A Strong Movement that Hospitality Should Support…

The growth in the demand for organic, pesticide and chemical free produce and livestock, together with the campaign for local sourcing demonstrates our drive for healthier lifestyles. The ‘informed’ segment of the hospitality industry has benefitted and will continue to benefit as wider selections of healthy produce are made available due to continued growth. An interesting, meaningful, and valuable piece of this continued growth is the rise in Veteran Farms. Veteran farms have become a reliable source of organic produce for local businesses (restaurants, supermarkets, farmer’s markets, etc.) in many communities throughout the country, and the concept continues to strengthen. The potential for this movement, if handled properly and funded fairly, can provide a benefit to our country that will address three significant issues: 1) stem the loss of productive farm and ranch land due to our aging farmers and ranchers, 2) provide meaningful opportunity to our combat Veterans, and 3) generate a healthier food supply nationally in the long-term.

Our combat Veterans tend to have the strength, discipline, and focus required for successful agricultural endeavors. All that is needed is opportunity; opportunity to learn, opportunity to experience, and opportunity to purchase. Their desire to pursue a career in this field has already been proven: http://abcnews.go.com/Business/young-veterans-eye-agriculture-careers/story?id=11094956

For many of our young combat Veterans adjusting to civilian life has been quite a challenge. Being transitioned out of the military usually results in losing close ties to those who served with you, understand you, and accepted you. The private sector wants to help but is not usually equipped to understand ‘unconventional behavior’, while educational opportunities offered in an institutional classroom setting have proven not to be effective for many combat Veterans.

Creatively conceived organizations such as Central Oregon Veterans Ranch, a 501c3 Tax Exempt Non-profit Organization (a vision of Alison Perry) have begun programs to purchase existing farms to provide a hands-on learning environment for our combat Veterans and a peaceful setting for our aging Veterans. Alison’s vision addresses not only education, but also healing, camaraderie, and volunteerism. As Alison explains it, “a working ranch that restores purpose and spirit for Veterans of all ages”. The potential productive capabilities of our young combat Veterans are far beyond most of our imaginations. Once ‘purpose and spirit’ are tactfully restored, strength, discipline and ability to focus explode into productive endeavors.

Local businesses (restaurants, supermarkets, and others) should come together to provide support for the growth of their community’s Veteran Farms. Just think about it…, those who protected us will now provide us with good health… What a tribute to the American spirit…

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