How a Virginia Nonprofit Is Helping Veterans Launch Careers in Farming

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By Lani Furbank

A nonprofit organization in Virginia has designed a potentially beneficial solution to two looming social issues in American society: the aging population of farmers and military veterans looking for new careers.
The Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture’s Veteran Farmer Program aims to develop a new cohort of farmers by providing opportunities and support to veterans.
The Center excels at community-focused programming that provides access to healthy food and establishes connections between local farms and consumers in the D.C. metro area. These programs include a Mobile Market that distributes produce to underserved communities and a farm camp that educates students about food production.
Their latest initiative continues that work by encouraging local and sustainable food production. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2012 Census, the average age of farmers has been rising over the past 30 years. The average age of principal farm operators is currently 58 years old. In addition, the number of new farmers (defined as those who have been operating for less than five years), has dropped by more than 20 percent since 2007.
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