I attended a press conference at Boone National Guard Center yesterday. The press conference was called by the Kentucky department of Agriculture and commissioner James Comer to launch two new programs in Kentucky.

Grow Appalachia was well represented at the conference: Suzi Van Etten – Director of Appalachian Science in the Public Interest (ASPI) – Mike Lewis – director of the Growing Warriors Project – Mark Walden – Assistant director – Grow Appalachia and assistant director of the Growing Warriors Project. Also in attendance  were 3 program participants in the Growing Warriors Project who will also have the opportunity to use the new labeling.

The first initiative is called “Homegrown by Heroes” and is an extension of the Ky proud branding model. This program will allow all veteran farmers in Ky access to a new logo that will set veterans agricultural products apart from competitors products. This program will also create a new avenue for consumers to support the veterans in their communities through direct support of veteran products. Nothing supports veterans better than developing systems that will assist in creating successful entrepreneurs. Mike Lewis – farmer & veteran – will be the first to receive the new logo for his products.

It is also planned that the national organization Farmer Veteran Coalition www.farmvetco.org- Headed by Michael O’Gorman- will take the “Homegrown By Heroes” label nation wide in the near future. Kentucky is leading the agriculture movement to make our food local and I think Grow Appalachia is the rudder in these movements.

The second initiative is The “Jobs for Vets” for program sponsored by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture who in partnership with USA Cares organization. This program is intended to help connect veterans with jobs in Ky and more specifically jobs in agriculture. USA Cares has committed to not only help connect the veterans with living wage jobs but also help with the daily expenses just to have a job. USA Cares is willing to pay for fuel cost, relocation cost, and basic needs like boots clothes and incidentals. So like & with John Paul Dejoia USA Cares and Ky department of agriculture are finding new ways to give veteran farmers in Ky a hand up and leading veterans into entrepreneurial ventures well supported and armed with the resources needed to be successful.