Teach veterans to farm, change their lives forever
Liberty Farms is a program created by Jay Michael Devereaux that is designed to bring self-sufficiency to veterans. The old adage if you teach a man to fish, you’ve fed him forever is applicable- Jay is looking to teach veterans the principles of aquaponics farming to be able to raise and sell their own produce. It’s actually called “horticulture therapy” and it’s been around a long time.
Why Liberty Farms?
Veterans returning from overseas deployments often come back unable to reintegrate with regular society. A farm provides them with a peaceful environment where they can recoup. It can give them independence, as many returning troops have difficulty finding a job, particularly if they have physical disadvantages. A disability can be physical or from PTSD…the farm environment lets them have purpose again. It is an excellent place to recuperate from anxiety, and gives them independence.
Devereaux’s idea is to bring motivation and payback for the veterans he cares about. Though he did not serve, many of his family did. It’s his way of “Paying it forward” to those who served.
What is the vision?
The training facility will be built in summer of 2015 near Woodward, Oklahoma. It’s a place of healing and life in a country setting far away from the hectic crowds of the city.
Jay explained that the program has a dual purpose. 1- to build a working farm where veterans can come and live for 2 to 3 months on site and learn how to raise both vegetables and fish. On five acres of land, they can grow up to lettuce, tomatoes, kale, micro-greens, tomatoes, as well as Tilapia and Crayfish; 2) – to give veterans a new life, and much needed independence.
The plan should be able to bring in between $60,000 and $100,000 per year for a veteran’s family, once they get started. It won’t require any “startup” for them, just the training. They do have to have access to at least 5,000 square feet of land for the greenhouses. Liberty Farms will actually give the keys to an aquaponics farm to the veteran to keep.
“This will also be a sort of stress test. If they absolutely can’t do the work, we’ll get them back home. We won’t leave a man out in the field. We’ll get them whatever help they need, and later, perhaps they can return.” Jay Devereaux
Jay already has 4 veteran families lined up to participate in the program. The goal is to create a self-sustaining job for the future. Liberty Farms will pay for their travel and housing- and assist with mortgage payments while they are in training, if that is a necessity. They encourage families to come to the farm.
To qualify, you must be a disabled veteran, whether physically or from PTSD, and you will need the paperwork that goes with it.
Who else is assisting with the project?
Retired US Navy SEAL Benjamin Smith is on the advisory board for this project, working on fine tuning the veteran’s end of it. There is a Certified Public Accountant who will assist with the business itself when the veteran is ready to become a self sufficient business owner.
The farmers can sell their produce anywhere they like, and Liberty Farms is creating a coop to increase their sales through national grocery chains.
After the training is done, and the veteran is on his way to self-sufficiency, one of three things will be required to “pay it forward” for someone else. 1) the veteran can tithe 5% of their proceeds back to Liberty Farms for one year only, or 2) they can create their own internship program for veterans, or 3) they can hire a veteran to work on their farm.
They are working on start up funds, as the program is less than 2 months old. Check out their website at this link for how you can either help or participate. The tithes, along with the revenue generated by the output of the training farm, will finance the program without the need for grants and donations once the start up capital is raised.
“I have more than I need to live now. Liberty Farms is a way of helping others to move forward.” Jay Devereaux