Damn Good Biking

Damn Good Biking
Mammath Mountain

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"All Things Considered"....A good day for the FVC!

Thanks to Cathryn for sending me an email about NPR wanting to connect with people changing careers into Agriculture.

I wrote a member of NPR's show "All Things Considered" spoke of our project and our vision for veterans villages, and post war reconciliation and the result was them following up with the Farmer Veterans Coalition and running a story about the project and interviewing one of our veterans in San Diego currently managing a farm and training other vets.

It really was nothing more than hello...poof!

This is why our government needs to continue funding our public radio and television stations.

Public media is a major contributor to accurate information, entertainment, but most importantly painting a mental picture for private citizens to conceptualize events in our own backyard and global community.

Last night after listening to Barrack Obama and him hinting this week that a definite plan for pulling troops out by late 2010 from Iraq is very real. My mind has been racing, there is no time to waste, thousands of young vets will be coming home.

Also sobering is the fact that roughly two million citizens are now military veterans who have served in Iraq total.

When they come home they are going to need opportunities, as well as places to decompress.

Why not retrain young veterans with years of experience beyond their age to become community farm mentors in local communities. Many of these young folk need viable job skills, but already possess leadership, and a determination to set the example for others to follow in public service.

There is my rant, I am wiped out from my New Jersey and Virginia Tech trip, but I am going to go work out now.

Its farm season, one must be in shape.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Virginia Tech is Kind of "Hokie" Place

So Cat' and I drove to Blacksburg VA about 2-1/2 hours south of Charlottesville. Last night we drove about 7 hours from New Jersey after attending festivities for her sisters wedding engagement party.

Today my lovely one was invited to give a presentation for the Virginia Tech Horticultural students and faculty talking about her international experience as an agriculture extension agent working in Niger, Egypt, Central Asia, and Nepal.

She knocked it out of the park and I'm very proud of her.

Prior to the event I met some awesome horticulturalist who have been all over the world collecting specimens, establishing farmers markets, and teaching.

I made a possible connection today and will hopefully meet with a gentleman who is working developing the cause of reconciliation and agriculture. Though we have not met, apparently he began this course in his life after his wife was tragically slain during last years Virginia Tech shootings.

I firmly believe this crazy notion that we can create mutual understanding between warring cultures by working together and breaking bread over mutually created food.

Tomorrow is one baby step closer to learning how to initiate this process.

All is well, keep on keep'n on folks.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Yankee Doodle Has A New Feather in His Cap

Today was the first day for the rest of the year for me.

These were my thoughts holding a pair of pruning shears, a well known well worn institution of hand tools. Felco's, I'm going to either love or hate the son of a bitches.

I started a new job at a vineyard called Keswick Vineyards near Charlottesville Virginia. They took six Virginia Wine Governor Cups last year.

Speaking with My grandma today, I spoke with her about my work, and mindlessly spoke "Grandma, a farmer needs more than know how to only raise hogs, or plant a row of beans." She comes from a long line of life long farmers.
(not taking away from their noble work **pig-bean farmers**)

But I was relating this more towards a much more needed trend in agriculture where farmers are needed desperately to diversify talents, learn new techniques, and broaden the production of farms into a poly-cultured landscapes.

Until I leave for Santa Cruz in April, my duty will be to prune twenty acres of gnarly vines in a vineyard, learn production, and hopefully establish a place to send veterans to for the Farmer Veterans Coalition.

Twenty Acres. By hand.

Fun, Sun, and weather from here on out.

Just like my farm in Niger.
Many Blessings to my village in Niger, The Noble Dan Saga,they prepared me well.

(My name in Niger/My alter farmer ego)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Readjustment, work, life....whole lotta love

Greetings everyone

Its been irritating not writing,I've been busy since returning from Charlottesville. I"ve been helping a mushroom farmer out part time, looking for work, and trying to spread the FVC love out here.

Last weekend I attended a local farmers meeting about throwing some vets into their internships, and then met with the local VA rep about finding me work, and hopefully some other guys also. Despite being in Dixie, the economy has gone south here as well, many people are out of work or seriously concerned about their lot.

I recieved good news today, with the assistance of a local agriculture extension agent who knows Cat', he arranged for a possible job.

Today I called them, told them about Africa, the FVC, and my need for work for a couple months before I begin the Santa Cruz apprenticeship. They said, come on out!

It called The Keswick Vineyard, its a beautiful place that was once the pioneer front....IN the mid 18th century!!

check out the place. I don't know exactly what all kinds of work I'll be doing, certainly part of it will be pruning.


Okay, that about wraps it up, I'll have a couple more post soon.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

An Article about the FVC in American Fruit-Vegetable Grower

Hi guys, this is us. This is the latest article written about our work. Many more things are planned to spread our seed. Documentaries, a book, more news, we were interviewed by NPR at our last dinner. There are more articles being written as we speak.

Growers Helping Vets
Group aids combat veterans by getting them into farming.
By David Eddy
Senior Western Editor
February 2009

Longtime vegetable grower Michael O’Gorman got into a discussion with some fellow growers last year at a Northern California strawberry farm about how they might be able to assist veterans returning home from the war by helping them get into farming. It would be a win-win, they figured, because not only could they aid the veterans in leading productive lives, but they’d also be doing something for the future of agriculture.

“There are really high rates of unemployment among these young people, even before the recession,” says O’Gorman, who’s the production manager of Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo, supervising 1,600 acres of organic vegetables in north Baja, Mexico. “Also, not a lot of young people are going into agriculture. We look at them (veterans) as future farmers.”

And so in May 2007 the Farmer-Veteran Coalition was formed, with O’Gorman serving as project director. O’Gorman emphasizes that the group has no political agenda, and takes no stance on the war one way or the other. In addition, he says it is not about giving hand-outs. “We don’t have anything to hand out,” he says. “It’s more about mentoring.”

Place For Healing

At their first meetings, they attracted not only interested growers — including several Sonoma County, CA, winegrape growers — but three women who lost sons in Iraq or Afghanistan. One of the women was Mary Tillman, the mother of Pat Tillman, who left a lucrative career as an NFL player to join the Army after 9/11. The women thought the Farmer-Veteran Coalition might help veterans who faced combat deal with their experiences, says O’Gorman, providing a place for healing.

“A lot of guys who’ve been in war talk about the psychological aspects of farming, about working with something that’s alive and positive,” he says. “A lot of people find that after the war experience there is something therapeutic in farming.”

But make no mistake, while the coalition does work with veterans’ groups and direct vets there for counseling, it’s all about getting energetic young people into agriculture. “We’re finding people who want a challenge, and farming is a natural fit because it requires a certain level of commitment — as we all know, farming is not an easy way to make a living,” he says. “But we’re letting them know that there’s a future in our industry, because no matter what happens, people are going to keep eating.”

Seed Planted In Iraq

O’Gorman says they’ve recently started hearing from active duty troops who’ve read about the coalition in publications such as Army Times, and want to know how they can get started in agriculture. One veteran, Matthew McCue, says he got the idea to get into farming while serving as an Infantry Team Leader in Iraq a few years ago. “I saw a lot of real interesting agriculture — people who would drive by checkpoints with truckloads of pomegranates,” he says. “I made my way through a lot of chicken coops looking for weapons and so forth.”

McCue, who grew up in the suburbs of Albuquerque, NM, and previously hadn’t given agriculture a second thought, realizes it might seem odd that his experience in Iraq would interest him in farming. But he says he now needs a profession that’s demanding. And with the heavy equipment training he received in the Army, he understands tractors. “Also, I’m organized, committed, and dedicated, skills that transfer from the military.”

After getting in touch with O’Gorman, who served as his mentor, McCue managed a farm that provided vegetables for a restaurant, French Garden, in Sebastopol, CA, as well as farmers markets. Now that he has some experience under his belt, he plans to strike out on his own. McCue is looking for land to lease in northern California, where he plans to grow vegetables for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) business, delivering vegetables directly to consumers. “The demand is just wide open for CSA boxes because people want better quality and to try new things,” he says. “Also, with the economic turmoil, people are more likely to eat in.”

McCue started thinking about such a direct relationship between the consumer and the grower in Iraq. Even in dangerous war-torn areas, farmers markets would open at sunrise each morning. “Agriculture is historically the most stable part of their economy, but farming’s at the heart of this country too,” he says. “A successful society is one that takes care of its farmers.” And, some might add, its veterans.

To find out more about the Farmer-Veteran Coalition, check out their website,
or call 707-981-801