Veteran resources

U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Many Veterans are finding farming and beekeeping to be therapeutic and meaningful, and this work often comes with a community Veterans can rely on. A variety of free opportunities exclusively for Veterans interested in beekeeping or agricultural programs are listed below. If you know of any other, please list it in the comments so we can include.
Free farming and beekeeping opportunities for Veterans - VA News

Farming

U.S. Department of Agriculture Military Veterans Agricultural Liaison

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides financial, educational, or business and training resources through a variety of programs aimed at Veterans. USDA wants to ensure that Veterans looking to return home or start a new career on a farm or in a rural community have the tools and opportunities they need to succeed.
Military Veterans Agricultural Liaison (MVAL), managed by USDA, helps Veterans connect to agricultural employment, education, and entrepreneurship on the farm and beyond by:
  • Coordinating with the USDA Human Resources Office to help Veterans and their spouses find employment at USDA agencies.
  • Connecting Veterans with paid apprenticeships through USDA and the Department of Labor.
  • Connecting Veterans to nonprofit and other partners who can provide them with training and hands-on experience in agriculture.
  • Working with VA to help Veterans gain valuable civilian work experience through non-paid internships with USDA agencies.
  • Sharing information about more than 40 loan, grant and technical assistance programs.

Center For Rural Affairs – Veterans in Agriculture Workshop Series

Military Veterans interested in agriculture are invited to attend a series of on-farm and virtual workshops. A new 3-year series from 2024-2026 highlights agritourism. In 2024, “Agritourism through Farm Stores” starts Feb. 19 and runs through August, rotating between online classroom sessions and on-farm sessions with an online option.  Programming is funded through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Farmers Assisting Returning Military (F.A.R.M)

F.A.R.M. offers the Future Farmer Internship available to Veterans, serving to help them find peace, purpose and opportunity through therapeutic agriculture training. At the end of the internship, Veterans will be prepared to start or expand their own farm through regenerative farming practices, agribusiness, crop planning, marketing and other learned skills.
The internships supports three main areas: agriculture, living and alternative. 
  • “Agriculture” provides structure and purpose while challenging the Veteran mentally and physically with daily farming activities.
  • “Living” offers horseback riding, hiking, camping, paddling, biking, hunting, fishing, climbing, repelling, diving and off-roading. Dinners, barbecues and fire pits on the farm create a therapeutic environment during real life situations.
  • “Alternative” provides holistic health and alternative medicine coaches to help create a healthy body, peaceful spirit and sound mind through hard work, whole food-based diet and physical fitness.

Farmer Veteran Coalition

Cultivating a new generation of farmers and food leaders and developing viable employment and meaningful careers through the collaboration of the farming and military communities. Programs available to Veterans include:
  • Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund, a small grant program to assist Veterans in the beginning years of farming and ranching.
  • The Homegrown by Heroes Label (HBH), which informs consumers that agriculture products were produced by U.S. military Veterans.
  • Membership discounts is free to all Veterans and provides exclusive access to discounts from agricultural suppliers and service providers.

Fields 4 Valor Farms

An apprentice program that provides hands-on farming experience and education to post-9/11 Veterans interested in starting their own small-scale farm that focuses on fruit and vegetable crops, along with beekeeping and raising small animals.
Veterans willing to commit to working two full days a week for 12 months will receive a monthly stipend.
Fields 4 Valor Farms grows and delivers vegetables, eggs and honey to local Veteran families in their goal to end Veteran hunger.

Armed to Farm

Armed to Farm has supported more than 1,000 Veterans from 47 states with hands-on and classroom learning opportunities. Farmer Veterans learn how to make a business plan and market their products, how to access USDA programs, set business goals and develop mentorships with seasoned farmers.  There are three training series currently available:
  • Flagship: Weeklong, hands-on and classroom training for new farmers.
  • Armed to Urban Farm, which focuses on Veterans who are new farmers in urban areas.
  • Armed to Farm 2.0, where Veteran must complete a weeklong session prior to attending this training series. This is an in-depth course on business planning, financial management, marketing and scaling-up production (includes hand-on activities).

Veterans Healing Farm

Founded in 2013 to enhance the mental, emotional and physical well-being of Veterans and their families. Some of the events and workshops offered throughout the year include equine therapy, canine therapy, medicinal herbs, art therapy, music therapy, canning and jam making, mushroom growing, organic gardening, suicide prevention, mental health first aid and much more.
Everything grown at the farm is donated back to the Veteran community.

Veterans to Farmers

Located in Colorado, this organization offers training programs in market farming, hydroponics, urban farming (backyard farming) and business planning. Veterans may also bring guests with them for urban farming courses (free of charge). These programs are a combination of on-the-job training and classroom time. At the completion of all these programs, each Veteran will receive a Certificate of Completion recognized by Colorado State University’s Extension Office.

Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture (CCUA) – Veterans Urban Farm

Truman VA Hospital Veterans can participate in vocational rehabilitation or recreational therapy through Veterans Urban Farm (located in Missouri). Produce grown on site is donated to local Veterans and is used in health focused programming at the VA hospital.
Veterans Urban Farm apprenticeship is open to all Veterans. Paid apprentices work on the farm for one growing season learning a variety of skills.

Beekeeping

Heroes to Hives (H2H)

Offered through Michigan State University Extension, this free hybrid learning program offers online courses as well hands-on education experiences. All hands-on courses are offered in Michigan. The unique program seeks to address financial and personal wellness of Veterans through professional training and community development.

Bee Veterans

This beekeeping for Veterans program is offered through the University of Minnesota for free for all Minnesota Veterans. This program offers workshops, field trips to visit commercial beekeepers and an open house at the Bee Lab. Participants will be provided with protective equipment, but can choose to bring their own. Workshops include instruction on basic beekeeping techniques, tips on seasonal bee management, knowledge of honeybee biology and the connection between people and pollinators.

Hives for Heroes

This non-profit organization focuses on providing a healthy transition from service through sustainability and conservation. Active duty service members, Veterans and first responders with little to no beekeeping experience are welcome and will be paired with a local mentor. Local mentors will teach hands-on training at their respective apiary (location where beehives are kept).

Honeybee Initiative for Veterans Empowerment and Support (HIVES)

Within VA health care, a new program called Honeybee Initiative for Veterans Empowerment and Support (HIVES) is being piloted. HIVES mission is to empower Veterans to use beekeeping to manage their overall well-being, while supporting VA employees in facilitating a wellness-based beekeeping program.  This new program is currently being offered at the Manchester VAMC, the Kansas City VAMC, and the Palo Alto VAMC through their respective Recreation Therapy Clinics.