Veterans Career and AgriTherapy Project (VCAP)
Renewable Farms has been committed to helping people grow since 2008. We have worked to educate, empower and employ communities through responsible agricultural methods. While growing healthy food has been an important part of our mission, it also serves a higher purpose as the conduit to enhancing the lives of those whom we work with. We see daily the numerous mental and spiritual benefits our facility offers, regardless of the background or specific circumstances of those who pass through our farm. Children, veterans, senior citizens, college interns, and individuals with limited abilities all find the fulfilling benefits the farm has to provide.
Working with veterans and their families over the past couple years, we have been made aware of the huge need in the military service community. It is an unfortunate fact that many veterans in Orange County struggle with unemployment, homelessness, depression, marital problems, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, and a host of other debilitating physical, emotional and financial challenges. This creates a huge barrier to successful reintegrating back into civilian life.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs report released in June 2018, “of the 20.6 veterans and servicemembers who died by suicide every day, six had recently used VA health care services.” Far too many Veterans are unaware of resources or have no access to career or counseling services to assist in their transition. Without an effective bridge to successfully fill gaps these issues will continue as many Veterans transitioning from military service recently or even decades ago still struggle.
We at Renewable Farms believe we can be a part of the solution in providing career and agriculture therapy-based counseling services to veterans in our area. The healing power of working in an agriculture environment or spending time in nature is widely accepted to have benefits in healing the body and mind. We aim to create a unique venue within the farm that will offer a Veterans Career and AgriTherapy Program (VCAP), to reach the individuals that are not currently utilizing VA resources to assist in their reintegration and healing.
Partnering with community organizations and private donors (like yourself) to walk alongside us in our mission to make a difference in the lives of veterans. Renewable farms will provide a safe, unimposing and non-clinical environment where veterans will feel comfortable in accessing the resources we will provide on a daily basis such as peer specialists, career training, Agriculture Therapy and bridges to additional supportive organization. We imagine a place where current or prior military service members (and their families) can come to access specific resources to meet their unique needs.
Renewable Farms will be shining example of community outreach for veterans seeking transitional work study in urban agriculture or agriculture-based therapy to assist in dealing with mental health issues. Veterans looking for healing will experience an immediate sense of peace on this working sustainable farm. Veterans will be able to participate in organized group therapy sessions in our open-air classroom, hands on horticulture therapy projects and have fellow veterans to walk alongside them on their healing journey. The farm will provide veterans and other volunteers a sense of purpose and continuing service to their community that is instrumental in healing.
Also, veterans looking to transition from service into a career specifically in sustainable agriculture can participate in California Veterans Affairs approved on-the-job training (OJT) program on the farm. The OJT program is a paid 18-month program that prepares transitioning veterans for a career in sustainable agriculture while qualifying for GI Bill housing benefits. The housing benefits are critical during the training period as affordable housing in Orange County is often a barrier to veterans participating in these types of programs.
Aaron Flora (Owner)- firstname.lastname@example.org
John Vargas (Veteran Outreach Coordinator)- email@example.com