In August, the Texas heat is blasting at full force. But the summer heat doesn’t mean that the farm life stops. In fact, this season is one of the busiest times for those involved in the agricultural life, and that is also true on the Farmer Education And Training (FEAT) Farm located in Gatesville, Texas.
The FEAT Farm is owned and operated by the Compatible Lands Foundation, and it is where the hands-on training for the BattleGround to Breaking Ground (BGBG) project takes place. Lead by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, the BGBG project is an entrepreneurial training program for veterans, active-duty military members, and others interested in starting or expanding an agricultural business. The training includes business planning and production education with the hands-on training offered at the farm.
This innovative partnership between CLF and Texas A&M AgriLife began in 2019 with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA), and the U.S. Department of Defense, with additional support from the Farmer Veteran Coalition. While delivering knowledge to individuals interested in agriculture, the BGBG project also seeks to reduce the unemployment rates of veterans transitioning from military service into civilian life by providing alternate employment options with tailored, hands-on training to support success.
“Texas A&M AgriLife is a recognized leader in serving and supporting farmers and ranchers in Texas,” says Lieutenant Colonel (ret.) Joe Knott, CLFs Director of Military Partnerships. “CLF is proud to work with them to provide this training resource to our military veterans interested in building agricultural enterprises.”
“I enjoy leading the workshops and working with the people who participate in the BGBG program,” says Heidi Barber, manager of the FEAT Farm, and a U.S. Army Veteran. “With the hands-on trainings, we share and demonstrate important skills that participants can take home and use to help build their businesses. They also find it helpful to meet other like-minded people who are working towards similar goals.” Trainings to date have covered such topics as cover crop rotation, artificial insemination, and welding.
The work at FEAT Farm aligns with the larger mission of Compatible Lands Foundation. Founded in 2009, CLF aims to promote the conservation, restoration, and preservation of land and natural resources and to foster compatible land uses among private and public landowners. “Supporting current and future generations who want to engage in farming and ranching is fundamental to conservation of working landscapes,” says Robert Gregory, Executive Director of CLF. “Indeed, the two go hand-in-hand.”
The next session (Cohort 8) of BGBG begins August 27, 2020 and the hands-on training will be offered virtually until in-person classes can safely resume. You can find more information on the upcoming program and the application process here.
To learn more about Compatible Lands Foundation and to support our work, please visit: www.compatiblelands.org.