New Kentucky program helps veterans start farming

Beautiful sunset from my front yard in Cave City

BEREA, KY. — Starting next month, Kentucky residents may see a new label on vegetables and farm products: Homegrown by Heroes.

The label is part of a movement to help interested veterans learn to farm.

Michael Lewis, the director of the Growing Warriors program, said farming helped both him and his brother after leaving the military.

Lewis told The Lexington Herald-Leader (, “You start to farm and you realize it could benefit your family, your community, and that’s extremely rewarding. You’re bettering your country.”

More than 60 percent of the active-duty military come from small-town, rural backgrounds, so farming often resonates with them.

Lewis said veterans already have the discipline and work ethic needed to make a go of farming, but often need help on the business side.

The pilot project will be located at a farm owned by Joseph and Heather Fields, who own a 7-acre plot near Berea.

“We can’t compete with growers in Mexico, but we can get it to people a lot cheaper and put something back into the local economy,” said Joseph Fields, who has deployed to Iraq three times with the Kentucky Army National Guard.

“The business component is the most scary part,” Fields said of the farming. “I’ve always worked for the state and federal government.”


Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader,


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