Today is Veterans’ Day: eleven-eleven. It derived from the date and time of the armistice effectively ending World War 1. Eleven-eleven-eleven (AM) at the time of first observance. This day was designed to memorialize the “war to end all wars,” for reflection and remembrance, and for work towards continuing world peace. That idealistic vision of the time after the end of the war to end all wars certainly hasn’t manifested! There are more and more and more former soldiers who have seen horrific events and suffered horrific injuries. I find Veterans’ Day to be a remembrance of a myriad of errors in judgment of our government, of hundreds of thousands of lives wasted through devastating injury and meaningless deaths.
I honor those who choose the road of service to country, but I simply can’t get my head (or heart) away from that fact that I don’t believe this service is necessary, or should be necessary. Human beings should not be at war everywhere. Our state should be that of persons seeking peace and community, not war. That is my belief. I will never believe that war on the scale that we have been fighting for the entire 65 years I have been alive, is reasonable or appropriate politics.
Thus, so as not to dwell on any darker November places by raging against war and the need for soldiers, I spent today working with my seeds. I have many, many seeds around the house. Some are left over from garden plantings in 2012 and 2013. Others are seeds saved in 2012 and 2013. They need to be organized and cataloged so that I can start planning my gardens for 2014. As I have been working with the seeds, their past growth and development, their potential for the next year and perhaps the next, and for some, even the next two years’ food, I have tried to find a connecting point between veterans and seeds.
There are no easy or readily apparent connections between vets and seeds, so I went on-line to see what could find. I discovered The Farmer Veteran Coalition (http://www.farmvetco.org). A relatively new organization, it was organized around 2008. Here’s its mission:
The mission of the Farmer Veteran Coalition is to mobilize veterans to feed America. We cultivate a new generation of farmers and food leaders, and develop viable employment and meaningful careers through the collaboration of the farming and military communities. We believe that veterans possess the unique skills and character needed to strengthen rural communities and create sustainable food systems for all. We believe that food production offers purpose, opportunity, as well as physical and psychological benefits.
This struck a chord! When I looked at their programs, I was surprised and gratified to see that they have a strong emphasis on sustainable agriculture and organic practices. Their partners are many of the organizations that teach and support sustainable small farms. What a nice surprise, on this day to remember wars. They also seem to have good supporting programs specifically for women vets seeking to become gainfully employed in farming.
I don’t know how many vets are interested in the stress and giving required in farming after they have given so much of themselves to fight some other people’s wars. Some of the first person stories featured on the website and in some related news stories are intense. It gives me another view.
What if? What if every soldier who came home from all the conflict around the world came home to grow a vegetable garden? What if her or she started with a small garden for the vet and his or her family? What if, after growing a home garden for a few years, he or she could organize a neighborhood to grow a larger garden that would feed not only the vet, but many neighbors as well? What if, each returning vet took the next step and grew a garden that could feed a community, bigger than a neighborhood? What if, each vet could grow enough food to support a 20-40 family CSA (consumer supported agriculture)? What if, the enthusiasm of those vets rolled over onto the neighbors, the community, the CSA shareholders, so that everyone was growing a little bit of food, and everyone was helping to feed one another?
What if all these vets decided that the best way they serve America on their discharge from the military service was to grow food using organic principles, and not using GMOs? I tried to find a good source for the number of vets leaving the service each year to try to get a handle on how many small farms this idea might create. The data’s there, but it’s too hard to analyze for a short piece. Suffice it to say, there are a lot of vets coming home every day.
So for my Veterans’ Day Observance. Welcome home vets! Thank you for your service. Help us return the idealism of Veterans’ Day nearly 100 years back. In service to peace, would you be willing to continue in service to your fellow human beings by becoming a farmer, and feeding us? A small farmer, an organic farmer, a farmer who cares what goes into the plants and animals you will be providing to your fellow humans as food? Will you think about it? I, for one, would be forever grateful. Thank you again!