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Produce During Wartime: Veterans Receive Farmer Training, Participate in Local Food Movement

Check out this story about a soldier turned farmer who advocates connecting veterans with farmers to create mutually beneficial partnerships.
Lily Schneider and Matthew McCue of Shooting Star CSA (Photo Credit: Linda Speel, FVC)

Matthew McCue’s memories of the time he spent in Iraq as a soldier are probably not what you would think. Along with the checkpoints, daily patrols, and desert heat, Matthew remembers vegetable gardens, carts brimming with watermelons, and local farmers. It is these vivid memories of Iraqi farmers and their produce that inspired his love of agriculture.

These days he lives in California and runs his own farm with his partner, Lily Schneider, in Suisun Valley. Growing food for local farmers’ markets and providing fresh produce for a more-than 90 member CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), Matthew has also become an advocate for connecting other veterans with farmers to form mutually beneficial partnerships.

“Watching people stare down the barrel of a gun with a cart full of produce because they are trying to get to the market to sell it to other members of the community got me thinking about agriculture in a way I hadn’t before,” said Matthew when I spoke to him on the phone the other day.

Matthew came home from Iraq and spent the next couple of years learning to farm.  After serving with the Peace Corps in Niger, where he worked with a small community of farmers, Matthew came back to the United States, started his own small-scale, organic farm, and became an active member of a growing movement to rehabilitate returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder through farming.

“To go from knocking down peoples’ doors and arresting them as a soldier to growing food and helping feed communities was a powerful experience for me. It can be hard to function as a veteran after existing in the context of a war, and learning farming skills can be a good way for soldiers to learn a new kind of job.”

Matthew is on the board of the Farmer-Veteran Coalition (FVC), an organization that helps place returning Iraq and Afghan veterans at small-scale organic farms where they can learn new skills while also making the often difficult transition back into civilian life.

Read the rest of this amazing story HERE.

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