Soon, veterans will have the opportunity to expand their knowledge of farming through a $750,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The grant, awarded to Springfield Community Gardens (SCG), will allow local veterans the opportunity to train at Amanda Belle’s Farm, a collaborative venture between CoxHealth and SCG.
“My father was a veteran, a farmer and worked at CoxHealth for 30 years, so this is an important milestone for me,” says Maile Auterson, director and co-founder of SCG. “I've heard many stories about how he couldn't wait to get off duty from the submarines under the ocean, where he served in the U.S. Navy for 21 years, and come home to the Ozarks and farm, so I’m especially honored to be part of an initiative that benefits farmers.”
Under the grant, which is Enhancing Agriculture Opportunities for Military Veterans Award # 2020-77028-32880, SCG can hire five veterans in the coming year for farm-based positions. Additionally, the organization will provide outreach through 24 workshops, and hands-on training of organic small-scale farming techniques, to 50 veteran participants in partnership with MU Extension.
“We are thrilled to be in support of this initiative, as we work every day to help our veterans and first responders improve their lives,” says Kerry Miller, Volunteer Coordinator at CoxHealth and co-founder of the health system’s Wellness for Warriors (WforW) program. “The grant, and the work being done through it, has the potential to forever change lives, right here in our community.”
Other outreach and program recruitment partners for this initiative include American Legion Post 125, and Missouri State University Citizenship and Service Learning (CASL) in partnership with Missouri State University Veteran Services.
On-site training will take place at Amanda Belle’s Farm, a farm located near Cox South, where organic produce will be grown. For more information about the farm, click here.