Veterans Entrepreneurial Training and Studies in Conservation Agriculture, Forestry and Ecology.
There are 800,000+ able bodied yet unemployed veterans in the USA. At the same time, our nation has a rapidly shrinking pool of family farmers and diminishing access to arable lands. Our solution to this problem is simple- VETS_CAFE works with veterans and our allies to develop site plans, including scale maps and business startup plans, which turn veterans agricultural/environmental dreams into real income and prosperity.
VETS_CAFE is currently working on its second startup farm. Our team of veterans and allies is developing a permaculture design plan for the development of a 2½ acre urban organic farm in Olympia, Washington. The site owner's goal is to create an incubator farm where veterans transitioning to civilian life can live in a community which supports their health, education and personal development. VETS_CAFE founder, Deston Denniston, a US Army veteran with an MS in Agriculture, 30+ years small farms experience, and 12 years in permaculture design practice, will guide the design process.
Veterans working on the design team will learn skills in:
- Ecological surveying
- Farm systems
- Technical horticulture
- Social networking
- Organic agriculture
- Small animal husbandry
- Other skills related to regional food security
The goal of our Kickstarter project is to produce illuminated site designs that will be used to guide site-owners, farm staff, and contractors over the years required for site development and design implementation. Illuminated site maps, the core of the design documents, are illustrated rather than cartographic, telling a story and conveying information richly in a way all ages can understand.
The course, which is being taken by veterans attending Washington State University and The Evergreen State College, as well as their families and allies, takes participants through the entire site design process from start to finish. While students can take the program for credit, it is not a catalogue class; we have made special arrangements for vets to get credit for internship studies in recognition of the challenges vets face in transition. Design education in our program includes hands on, dirt under the nails education; this is a value shared by veterans and farmers alike.
On program completion participants will have gained tools and networks that allow them to re-create the process at their own homes and for their own farm projects. Veterans earning college credit at Evergreen State College and Washington State University are also being provided with opportunities for follow-up business planning and development with Enterprise for Equity and other local economic development groups.
Support has already come from the Washington State Veterans Conservation Corps, who put in about half the funds needed to start the program and worked with us to make sure vets could earn college credit through their GI Bill for taking the class. Other supporters include Enterprise for Equity, an entrepreneur training program with a focus on the business management aspects of farming and Cascade Harvest Coalition, a farm, forest and fisheries advocacy alliance, amongst others. To date, about $7,000 of the $11,000 needed to offer this accredited Permaculture Design Course has been raised.
Contributors to our Kickstarter will receive seedballs at least, and higher levels of support will get you a CD with veteran interviews, class highlights and digital copies of the site designs we develop, or even secure you a seat in attendance at our design unveiling in late March.
If your suppoort surpasses our fundraising goals, we'll up the ante; for every $100 beyond the goal we will donate 5lbs seedballs to Olympia area non profit conservation and garden projects like South Sound Prairies or GRuB; but don't tell them we said so- its a secret! That's in addition to the seedballs contributors will receive. Funds beyond our goal will be used to support document production and improve (potentially hiring a pro) our video editing- we'll have over 100 hours of raw footage by the time were done. Email us if you'd like more information and to confirm our commitment to fiscal transparency. Of course, if you're contributing as we hit those marks, you'll still get your seeds. Nature, and veteran service members, are generous like that.
VETS_CAFE is a project of Abundance Consulting LLC. See http://abundancepermaculture.com/vetscafe.html for more information.
For more videos of projects VETS_CAFE has been involved in, see videos made with our partners the Veterans Transition Corps Boots to Roots program.
Note: While our design clients deserve the full respect and privacy they request, it is also understood that the site plans we develop, minus location, etc., will be of interest to many of the contributors regardless of support level. These designs will be viewable on our VETS_CAFE facebook albums. It has also been brought to our attention that many folks may live in a places where seedballs seem impracticable for them to use. In this case we encourage seeding unused lots with our lovely western wildflowers. Let your revenge be known in the smiles on the faces of children and grandmothers.
Risks and challenges
Our aim is to document, deliver and propagate the design method and processes driving the site design. Funds will be used to support this end. Many mishaps, obstacles and unseen re-routes may come in the process of such a campaign.
We are veterans working with veterans. Our service periods range from Vietnam to Post 9-11. We are both peacetime and combat vets, we are spouses and children of vets, friends and allies to any who would heal and be whole. Adapt and overcome is the spirit of our enterprise - whether it's foul weather making outdoor projects and filming impossible, or personal injury and illness, we drive on. Side routes and hindrances are expected (though at the time of this launch, half way through the course, things are going very well!). We film with two cameras. Project participants are developing their own documents. We will cross-train project participants to assure that sick days don't leave us with a design crew deficit. All digital copies are backed up with hard copies and vice versa. We held a brainstorming and troubleshooting meeting at the beginning of the project and have another one coming the last week of February to assure road bumps don't become washouts. As veterans know, sometimes the deck gets stacked against us - and that's all the more reason to start well, put in more than full effort, and come out smiling. Join us!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)