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Organic Farming Helps Returning Soldiers Find Peace

Organic Farming Helps Returning Soldiers Find Peace

Soldiers returning from combat in the Middle East are faced with the difficult task of finding their place in civilian life. Many have been traumatized by the horrible realities of war, and even when they can find gainful employment, it can be difficult for veterans to settle into the “normal” 9-5 routine.

When Colin Archipley, a decorated Marine sergeant, returned home to California after three tours in Iraq, he needed something to help him readjust to life outside a war zone. He decided to try growing avocados and loved it. Later he got a USDA loan to help him build a greenhouse so he could switch the farm over to organic hydroponic production.

Now, Archipley’s farm, known as Archi’s Acres, produces organic, hyrdoponically-grown, basil, lettuce, chard, kale, mint, tomatoes, cilantro and parsley. More importantly, Archipley is using the farm to introduce other veterans to his version of dirt therapy. In 2007, he started the Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training (VSAT) program, which uses farming to help vets recover from post-traumatic stress syndrome.

“Our philosophy is to call up and redirect our veteran’s attributes of leadership, tenaciousness, adaptability, as well as willingness to take on severe challenges, self-knowledge and appetite for the continual improvement,” writes Archipley on his website. “We have bet the farm on these well-disciplined and hard-working veterans whom we trust to continually challenge themselves to achieve the highest standards in plant production.”

Besides the mental therapy derived from a hard day’s work on the farm, the fighters-turned-farmers learn skills they can apply elsewhere or use in developing their own businesses. According to Discovery News, the VSAT program has partnered now with local colleges to offer an intensive six-week agricultural business course to veterans.

Related Reading:

One In 10 U.S. Veterans Has No Health Insurance

Veteran Job Corp, FDR Would Be Proud

Veterans Writing Project

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6:25PM PDT on Jul 6, 2012

Thank you.

5:49AM PDT on Jun 6, 2012

Very theraputic.

8:57AM PDT on Jun 5, 2012

Colin, my charity (NPI) is organizing a program to train & coach 84 Montagnard refugee families (from Vietnam) in urban farming, in Greensboro, NC. The men in these families are almost all veterans of the Vietnam War having supported and defended U.S. military forces ... and forced to flee Vietnam after the communists assumed power. Since the Montagnard fought along side of American soldiers, they respond well to our vets even the our government does not recognize the Montagnard as official veterans. If we can be helpful to any of your vets please let me or NPI know. Our contact info is on NPI's website:

8:21AM PDT on Jun 5, 2012

This is wonderful. Now this would definitely help a lot of people.

3:50PM PDT on Jun 4, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

3:12AM PDT on Jun 4, 2012

The healing benefits of working with one's hands to grow organic food are already well-attested. This 'therapy' should be made available to ALL returning service personnel.

2:16AM PDT on Jun 4, 2012


12:31AM PDT on Jun 4, 2012

Thank you so much for this article

6:37PM PDT on Jun 3, 2012

I've found a mention of another crop they may want to add - purslane. Grows wild in many parts of Europe. Has been imported to the US, where it often grows well enough to be considered a weed. However, it is about the only vegetarian source for the DHA and EPA forms of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. There are more vegetarian sources for the ALA form, but the human body is very inefficient at converting the ALA form into the DHA and EPA forms it has more need for. Not a very big market for it yet, but it's a way to help both human health and the welfare of the sealife in the colder parts of the ocean.

2:55PM PDT on Jun 3, 2012

How wonderful. I wish all Vet hospitals would dedicate some of the property to this wonderful project. I think it would get a lot of other wise reluctant vets to the hospital for other help. What could be wrong with this??

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