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From Battlefields To Farmlands

“They helped me a great deal, including providing me with free accommodation when I needed it,” says Matthew McCue, an Iraq veteran who is farming 15 acres in California for the third year with his girlfriend Lily Schneider. Their focus is vegetables and they intend to grow their CSA program from 150 to 220 members this coming season.

Matthew grew up in Albuquerque, NM. Drawn to an unusual lifestyle, he decided to join the Army rather than go to college. Observing Iraqi farmers tend to their crops through the upheaval of Saddham Hussein’s demise and the ensuing chaos inspired him. “While unemployed police were starving, they just kept doing what they had always done, trucking their pomegranates to market as if nothing was happening. Farming gave them something to think about and something to do,” he told me. “I had thought I would work for the government for the rest of my life, but then I started questioning the inherent instability of all these institutions. By contrast, nothing seemed more reliable than the soil beneath our feet,” he added.

Four years of active duty under his belt, Sergeant McCue came back to America and left the Infantry to go farming. He WWOOFed in Hawaii, graduated from the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (UC Santa Cruz), spent one year in Niger with the Peace Corps, before coming back to California to put his knowledge to work.

He is only one of several veterans profiled in the documentary project by Dulanie Ellis. They all tell stories of redemption thanks to the tough discipline and loving rewards of Mother Earth.

For more about the Farmer-Veteran Coalition and the work they do with veterans, watch this interview with Michael O’Gorman:

Image: Iraq vet Matt McCue on his farm Shooting Star CSA.

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Laetitia Mailhes

Laetitia Mailhes is a French-born journalist. After many years as the technology and innovation correspondent of the French "Financial Times" in San Francisco, she decided to focus on what truly matters to her: sustainable food and farming. Find more articles and videos on her blog, The Green Plate Blog.


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10:18AM PST on Nov 17, 2011


3:11AM PST on Nov 16, 2011

Yes thanks.

1:13AM PST on Nov 16, 2011

Il ya quelques jours, la décision de la Cour de révision de Padoue, qui a annulé le décret par lequel le GIPDoudoune Moncler

6:23AM PST on Nov 15, 2011

A very positive change

5:14AM PST on Nov 13, 2011

I will help to heal and give them a purpose in life again.

12:02PM PST on Nov 12, 2011

wonderful---being close to nature is so healing and they certainly seem to be needed.

11:49PM PST on Nov 11, 2011

sounds like a good idea

7:20PM PST on Nov 11, 2011

A different perspective and a viable one.

6:41PM PST on Nov 11, 2011

Thanks Laetitia!~

2:13PM PST on Nov 11, 2011

Glad to hear good news, especially today. Thank you.

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