Update Fall 2017: This ministry is evolving. Please reach out to Rev. Linda Martin for more information. Her email is: email@example.com.
Our congregation has been looking for ways to help returning veterans find healing. We got acquainted with Heroic Foods in Hudson, New York through researching missions to support with our Earth Day Celebration Dinner profits. Heroic Foods is a 20-acre farm outside of Hudson purchased by screen writer Leora Barish to house several veterans and their spouses/partners yearly while they intern for area farms and learn different aspects of farming.
But recently, very serendipitously, we have come to be connected with Vets2Farm, Inc., a non-profit organization in Little Falls, New York whose purpose is to:
“provide disabled veterans a place to heal, farm, grow and give back. It is a place where veterans who are interested in farming can learn the various tasks associated with running an organization as well as the science behind everything we do on the farm. This in turn benefits not only the veterans we serve, but the community as well.”
I say serendipitously because I was perusing Craig’s List (always in the farming section…and with an eye for critters that need me!) when I came across an ad for pork for sale raised by veterans. My husband and I used to raise pigs and I have been longing for some good, healthy pork, so I called the number and spoke with Dave Gevry, the Executive Director and disabled veteran from the war in Afghanistan. Some friends and I made a visit and selected our pig from a small herd of seven of the happiest, healthiest pigs I’ve met – short of my own. They are very humanely slaughtered at a USDA certified butcher, nicely packaged…and may I say, are extremely tasty!
As I spoke with Dave about the joys and struggles of trying to get a mission like this started and growing I found the Holy Spirit whispering in the background… “You can help here.”
To make a long story short, I’m now on the Board of Directors working to make Dave’s dream for this mission come true. Right now, Vets2Farm is leasing building and land space from another veteran. They raise chickens, pigs and have just begun beef with a generous donation of a small herd. Dave, his wife Heather and his volunteers also have garden produce which is sold in area farmer’s markets. They have big dreams to eventually own their own farm, raise their own feed and build housing for homeless veterans. Part of this dream is to get quality, healthy and naturally grown food into the hands of those who are economically challenged in the area. Organic food is often priced outside of “the possible” for those who have tight budgets.
So, our Session decided that our theme for Advent this year would be “Waiting With Our Veterans.” Dave will be presenting the mission of Vets2Farm on the first Sunday in Advent. We will have chickens available to purchase and information to get us all started on the journey to the manger. We will be collecting donations and handing out ornaments for folks to take home for their own trees to help us remember the plight of so many returning, wounded veterans.
I am just “getting my feet wet” as a member of the Board, but wanted to give you food for thought as the Advent season approaches. Will you help me get the word out? Will you pray for Vets2Farm? Do you have skills that you would like to use to help? Vets2Farm is in need of volunteers and funding necessary to get matched grants through various organizations. You may go to the website, vets2farm.org for more details.
Thank you kindly for taking the time to read and consider this mission opportunity!
Rev. Linda Martin is pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Broadalbin. Her life seems to “come together” at the corner of farming and faith. Both she and her husband enjoy a 10-acre “rocks and roots” homestead in Edinburg that they share with various four-legged stock – – the kind that don’t make them any money but do make them feel extremely blessed. Did we mention she also has an amazing little grandson named Henry?
David Gevry, is the Executive Director of Vets2Farm, Inc. and a disabled veteran from the war in Afghanistan. David grew up in Western Massachusetts and attended Westfield Vocational High school where he majored in construction technology. He enlisted in the Navy in 2001-2003 with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 3. In 2005 he joined the Army as an Infantryman where he served numerous leadership positions and was deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Upon returning home, he reclassified as a forward observer and was medically separated due to injuries sustained from his deployment. While in the Army, he attended schooling in the following concentrations: marketing and culinary. Currently, David is pursuing degrees in both Dairy Science and Agricultural Business at Morrisville State College in New York.
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