The Hippo


Sep 18, 2018








 Veterans in Agriculture Workshop

When: Saturday, Sept. 15, from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. 
Where: D & R Farm (24 Manselville Road, Deering)
What: Veterans and their families can learn about opportunities in agriculture while networking with other veterans and state resource providers. A light lunch will be provided. Pre-registration is encouraged but not required.
Cost: Free
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Back home on the farm
Agriculture workshop offers resources for veterans


By Scott Murphy 
A local, veteran-owned farm is teaming up with the University of New Hampshire’s Cooperative Extension to provide resources and support to aspiring farmers who’ve returned from the line of duty. Veterans and their families can learn about opportunities in agriculture while networking with other veterans and state resource providers on Saturday, Sept. 15, from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. 
at D & R Farm in Deering.
UNH Cooperative Extension has organized these free workshops for veterans for the past few years, with about 25 veterans and their families attending last year’s event. Since 1915, the department has offered educational agriculture events and resources throughout the state.
During the workshop, veterans and service members can hear stories from other veterans who have started farms and agricultural businesses. The program will also include open discussions and Q&As, as well as a panel with members of the New Hampshire Farm Bureau’s committee for veterans in agriculture. 
“We realized that we have a lot of veterans in the state who would like to be farmers, but they don’t know how to do it,” said Mike Lunak, state specialist for dairy management at the UNH Cooperative Extension. “We have veterans who are already farmers in the state, and we think there’s value for them to be able to share their personal experiences.” 
Along with helping veterans return to civilian life, the workshops are also a means of addressing the state’s aging farmer population, according to Steve Turaj, dairy, livestock and forage crops field specialist at UNH Cooperative Extension. While he said agriculture is just one avenue veterans can use to make this transition, their backgrounds in the military are often a good fit for farming, whether independently or as a worker for an existing operation. 
“Farmers are always looking for really qualified people, and a lot of veterans have helped them develop skills that farmers could really use,” said Turaj, who is a veteran. “We hope to connect two natural partners to help agriculture in New Hampshire.”
Therapy through nature
Donn Mann of D & R Farm will share his own story about how and why he went from the military and into farming, as well as the resources he needed and the challenges he overcame to launch his business. 
Mann was active-duty military in the army for just under seven years and moved to Derry in 2014 after he returned to New Hampshire. He bounced around from job to job, with a goal of having land and being able to support himself. This past March, he purchased the property for D & R Farm in Deering. He’s started growing vegetables and raises chickens and pigs, which he uses to till the land by breaking up topsoil and eating larvae and insects. 
Farming has allowed Mann to takes several attributes from his military experience and apply them to a new challenge. He said it’s also therapeutic to be able to focus on creating life and taking care of life instead trying to take lives away.
“I’m able to provide a service to people like I did in military, with the chance to be able to do things my own way,” said Mann. “There’s a lot of structure and rank in the military, so it’s nice to be able to embrace my creativity and develop what I have in mind.”
Beyond sharing his own story, Mann said the workshop will offer an opportunity for veterans to have face-to-face conversations with state agricultural experts, as well as build a network of support with other veterans. He said many veterans are more likely to lean on each other due to their shared experiences.
“A lot of veterans, especially if they’ve been deployed, are pretty closed off, because they’ve come back after seeing things through a different set of eyes,” said Mann. “Having a workshop specifically for veterans is going to allow them to be around people they can trust.” 

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