Heroic Food Farms – Farming Program for Veterans

An interesting article on an interesting farm in Hudson, NY that trains veterans to become farmers.

The reasons, this article argues, for veterans to become farmers when they return, are extremely compelling.

Founder of the farm, Leora Barish, says: “There’s no process in this culture for returning veterans to help them recover from the effects of their service but also to help them adjust to a radically different set of moral imperatives. To expect people to come from one to another is completely unreasonable.”

Beyond this, Barish argues that veterans are perfectly suited to become farmers since their mindset, training and work ethic are so suited to farming.

The farm offers a reward and framework that Barish argues is satisfying for people adapted to military objective-based task completion.

“One of the things that veterans miss so much when they’re separated from the military is a mission,” says Barish. “They can get jobs sometimes, but it’s not a mission.”

The farm, Barish alludes, can satisfy this sense of mission.

This project is systemically rooted without a doubt. Barish’s approach of addressing three social concerns, veteran transition, sustainability and food security, suggest she is thinking about the interconnected nature of food to other aspects of society.

Can this farm supply Bard? This is a great question. It is a 20 acre farm, which was once a cattle farm and more recently a goat dairy farm.

The veterans do not only work at Heroic, but are part of a network of training farms in the area. It would be interesting to know what production is like… likely it would be smart for a farm like this to serve their local area… but for Bard’s purpose this would be considered real food. Really real food in fact, since Hudson is 18Mi away.

How much can 20 acres produce? What kinds of production methods are being used, because this will affect how much is produced per acre. More land does not necessarily mean more food!


Yes, We Can – Ghent, Columbia County

Three women in Columbia county on 8.75 acres, have created a successful farm: Ironwood.

This great article in Edible Hudson Valley covers their story and adds some meaningful reflections on gender and the fulfillment of farming.

The trio sell to restaurants in the Hudson Valley, including Gaskins in Germantown, as well as W. M. Farmer and Sons in Hudson; but most notably to Blue Apron, the “game-changing company that delivers meal kits nationwide by subscription.”

Though none of the women come from farming families, they all have found great satisfaction in farming life. One women, a trained sculptor, describes: “I think that, with farming, you get the same the aesthetic satisfaction [that you get from art]. You have the ability to create a whole world, but it’s always changing–it’s collaborative with nature.” She describes farming as, “fun and powerful, like a vibrant way to live. It felt good.”

The initial investment was $2,000, each. They also took out a “big capital loan” from The Carrot Project, “a group of New-England based investors that help farm and food businesses access financial
support through banks.”

The article explains that the first year was hard:

“Not only were they planting their first crops, but they were building the infrastructure–irrigation systems and green- and fieldhouses–that they use today. Jones was heavily pregnant with tow-headed Elsie, who now toddles around the farm with her father, Jonathan Taee. That year, the trio deferred their own payment, so both Parker and Brandt needed to work other jobs to get by. That left them pulling 70- to 80-hour work weeks. “There were a couple of screaming matches, for sure,” admits Parker. “That first year, I was saying ‘I cannot do this forever!’ But then the next year, we were able to pay ourselves and
things got much better.”

Jennifer Parker, one of the trio, explains that the women-owned farm was not a political choice. Jones, another of the trio adds that she just worked with a lot of women as she was learning to farm, “so that was just the pool I had to choose from.” The article also points out that Blue Apron’s national farm sourcing team is also “totally comprised of women” and that “much of what they source is also grown by women.”

The article finishes with Jones, and Parker making some great reflections about gender:

“I feel that women have always been at the center of agriculture,” observes Jones, “maybe not in the forefront in people’s minds in our society, but women have been a part of food production for forever. Just because they’re not [Parker interjects “in the historical narrative”] out flexing their muscles in front of the barn, that doesn’t mean they weren’t there.” Parker follows up. “I just think anyone is capable of being either strong or weak, regardless of their gender. So maybe there’s a popular assumption about what women can and can’t do, but the reality is that we have been doing this. The whole time. So, why is this even a question?”

check out the digital issue for beautiful photos:


Transcript here: