Hi Ya’ll!! This is BethAnn from WV Vets to Ag and this summer has been filled with many challenges, which we have talked about without end. I thought that focusing on some positives would be a great change. We certainly have much to be thankful for like the support for GA and our local communities, the produce grown, friendships cultivated, and lessons learned that will improve our processes.
Among the good stuff recently were the watermelon grown from the seeds planted by children of Veterans. These are some great looking watermelon, and talk about tasty!! Yum!!
The high tunnel was a great thing this year and produced copious amounts of food. When the rain washed out the Veteran Farm at Parchment Valley, the high tunnel became our sole focus of production. While often the disadvantage is no rain gets into the high tunnel, this year it was blessing since it kept the rain from washing out the plants.
We have been working with bees since we started, offering training to Veterans to help with PTSD/TBI symptoms. The results are amazing for the Veterans. We started with one small bee yard in Mason County which housed 6 hives. We lost 4 of them over last winter, so we combined the 2 remaining colonies and they are doing very well now. We have worked on planting blueberry plants and flowers so that there is plenty of nearby forage available.
In late August we partnered with Geezer Ridge Farms in dedicating a new Veteran’s Apiary Training Center. Geezer Ridge is located in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia and serves as the only authorized trainer for our program. Ed Forney has trained nearly 100 Veteran-beekeepers over the last two years, with great success. This training apiary creates the opportunity for an expanded, hands on training/mentoring program in WV.
Then there is the Success in Sorghum. Partnering with one of our first participants in the Veterans to Warriors program resulted in Sorghum carrying the V2A label. Eric and Mary Grandon of Sugar Bottom Farm grew and processed sorghum the old fashion way for a highest quality, local product.
So, while it has been a challenging year for many, including us, there are still successes to be proud of. These successes make a huge difference in the lives of those we serve and the consumers that purchase the product. As always, we donate much of our produce to the local homeless shelters to ensure that there is healthy, fresh food available for those in need, as well as inspire them to grow their own garden once they are safely and permanently housed.