Purpose of the Grant Request:
To increase student housing by converting the existing Farm Cabin into a Dormitory (Bunkhouse) capable of housing up to 16 students. To accomplish this goal it will be necessary to expand the common living area, enlarge sleeping space and construct a bath house; the addition of the bath house will require the installation of an aerobic septic system. The estimated expense for this project is approximately $75,000.
Description of the Program: PDF
Stated simply, the objective of Warriors That Farm™ (WTF) is to heal the man by farming the land; turning swords into plowshares.
We change lives by offering American Veterans (Warriors) an opportunity to learn about small family farming from a Certified Wholistically Grown™ model[i], niche-marketing[ii] and “nutrient-dense” dietary practices[iii]. In addition to traditional “classroom” instruction, we are able to provide a more practical “hands on” farming experience. Our goal is to offer our graduates the opportunity to achieve:
- A permanent source of sustainable income – the family farm, in a niche-market
- A lifestyle that promotes both physical and emotional health
Collaboration with other agencies:
The course is recognized by TEXAS A&M as off site credit hour curriculum worthy of 12 credit hours leading toward a university degree. Additionally, after successful completion of the course, help is offered to transition Veterans into the community through a developing network of local and regional Farmers and Ranchers. We are life members of the American Hereford Association ,also members in good standing with: Texas and Southwest Cattle Raisers Association, Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, and other organizations that have members willing to help develop sustainability in the lives of farming Veterans. A number of fine recreational and rehab programs for Veterans exist such as Wounded Warriors and education assistance via the Texas Veterans Commission. Our mission is distinctive in that it is not recreational (though we expect our program participants will go fishing from time to time!). WTF takes Veteran military skills and transfers them to a career in Wholistic farming.
On our working farm in East Texas, we have hosted short term interns for several years that learn in a mentored environment; the WTF project however, will require increased costs associated with 1) planning, 2) infrastructure, 3) promotion, and 4) staffing. This grant request addresses one key component necessary for comfortable and safe housing for the Veteran long-term participants.
How and why did you become interested in serving the returning Veteran?
In November 2013 we encountered a young man in Palestine, Texas who was a returning Veteran, who had attempted suicide from despair over having no work (perhaps more likely, no vision of hope for success in finding a job and no real life plan). After Nancy returned from the Women Veteran Farmers conference, we thought that by shifting our focus from our personal farming ventures to teaching / aiding Veterans interested in agriculture we could help the growing number of Veterans like him.
This does not represent a big shift for us philosophically, but it is a major change in the object of our current apprenticeship program… a change that will require us to meet new challenges: the potential emotional issues associated with “re-entry” — expanding our current infrastructure, recruiting and developing professional staffing; changing from a short term casual internships to a comprehensive 12 month immersion program that contemplates healing for the soul and body as well as “re-tooling” for personal responsibility for employment[iv].
“Change” is a norm in the natural world… climatic, social and economic changes require a mind, body and spirit of flexibility, gratitude and discipline – attributes taught by the Armed Services. Farming is a life time challenge always leading toward sustainability (self-support). It is our firm belief that many of our returning veterans will respond positively to the challenges and opportunities offered in our on-farm training program.
How will this project support the mission of the Foundation for Christian Alternatives (FCA) and communities in the Ark-La-Tex Region?
The Mission ofWarriors That Farm™(a division of FCA) is to provide a constructive alternative to cultural and social issues that affect returning Veterans. WTF offers Veterans hope, both individually and corporately. We believe that the graduate will become hired by a successful Farmer/Rancher or be able to start his own farm/ranch, thereby improving the local economy as he grows for himself and his family. Warriors That Farm™helps FCA accomplish its mission as well as restoring rural communities in Ark-La-Tex and elsewhere.
The Mission of Foundation for Christian Alternatives (FCA) is to provide quality alternative programs for basic conflicts that continue to have negative impacts into adulthood. Each of FCA’s programs is based and focused on belief in God, individual responsibility and a commitment to absolute honesty, unselfishness, purity and love. We seek to arm program-participants to cope with the fears “within”: negativism, fear of the public, defeatism, apathy, and selfishness.
What is the estimated number of people this project will serve?
Sixteen per rolling year: small, engaging, practical hands-on training in real life activities that lead to a comprehensive understanding of the fundamentals skills necessary to be a successful, sustainable, and Wholistic farmer.
What is the projected timeline for this project? Include the expected date for complete funding, the project implementation date, and other major milestones.
November 1, 2014 is the target date to complete the funding for the construction of the Bunkhouse. Construction will be complete and ready to house the first class on February 14, 2015.
How will you measure the effectiveness of this project? What specific results do you expect to achieve?
The Bunkhouse (on-farm housing) makes it possible for the immersion style training of the student body: a farmer is on-call 24-7. This Bunkhouse is what sets us apart from a “going to school” type of education.
Of the 16 veterans seeking to learn a career path in small farm sustainability, eleven (11) will complete the 9-month course and enter the rural community on a farm or ranch with the skills to earn a good living as a Ranch Manager, Top Hand, a Hand. A few might even purchase and farm the land themselves.
We have already received an inquiry from a Dallas plumbing company owner (who knows us personally as a customer) to hire a farm manager for a property he is developing in Upshur County. We believe our effectiveness will be measured by:
- Our graduates’ post-program employment within the Farming and Ranching community
- The growth of our “Certified Wholistically Grown™ by Warriors That Farm™” within local and regional farmer’s markets, as well as other niche-markets
Briefly describe the services you offer. Include the number of people served annually and years of operation.
We are local, sustainable farmers. Since 2002 my wife Nancy and I have hosted many interns from around the world (WOOFers) for the purpose of teaching the value of organic/bio-dynamic farming and communicating the organic gardening and animal husbandry skills I have learned since 1970. In the kitchen, students eat and learn how to prepare (three times a day) nutrient dense meals. Typically 80% of the meal comes from our garden and animal husbandry. In addition to learning skills required to grow and prepare food, student/interns are also involved in learning techniques to produce “Value-added” food items and in planning for sales in local niche-markets.
Although we are establishing an “on-farm” immersion school for up to 16 Veterans per session, we will begin our first session with eight students. This number provides the opportunity for teamwork and offers a community structure similar to the military squad unit (a structure familiar to Veterans).
Our basic course outline leads toward sustainability: Your Farm is your Business. The premise of our program is that the sustainable family farm is a business and must be operated as such. Our design for student success will build upon on the basics learned in the military (planning, preparation, discipline and teamwork) by offering a comprehensive course of study that requires each student to develop an Executable Business Plan based upon their individual skills and interests.
Course work includes the following topics: Market Assessment and Determining Profitability prospects Cash Flow Predictions, Break Even Analysis, Sales Forecasts Developing Your Business Plan Developing Your Market Plan Marketing Power, Community Supported Agriculture concepts Regulations, Taxes and Incorporation concepts Writing the Business Narrative Evaluation and Assessment: Business Plan Presentations Farming Methods: Organic, Bio-intensive, Biodynamic Soil Analysis, Soil Fertility, Soil Conservation Compost Building Cover Crop Workshop Harvesting and Storage Integrated Pest Management Crop Planning and Production 1: Cropping and Successions Crop Planning and Production 2: Field Schedules Sustainable Vegetable Production: Regional Varieties and Best Practices, USDA Climate Zones Sustainable Vegetable Production: Water conservation, irrigation, pond management Wielding, Plumbing, Electrical Circuits, Equipment Handling, Fencing, Maintenance, Animal husbandry of pastured Cattle, Sheep, Goats, Horses, Poultry: broilers, egg layers, ducks, On-farm processing, And, of course, Record Keeping.
Classes are designed to give the students an overview of the complex nature of farming with the goal of guiding them toward sustainability.
Is this project for every veteran?
No, being a Service Connected Veteran himself, Mr. Falster (Capt. Karl) knows first-hand how quickly the window of successful intervention passes in the life of a separating serviceman. Our hope is that through referrals from the many quarters of the Veteran service community, we will interview/recruit individuals who desire to test the therapeutic nature of growing and harvesting as well as continue in their service to their fellow man through their participation in a healthy and vigorous outdoor career.
List the current members of your Board of Directors:
President – Karl E. Falster, Sr.
Vice-President – Nancy G. Falster
Treasurer – Molly Nichols
Secretary – Molly Nichols
Board of Visitors Members:
Shawn Kenon – Director of Development
Renee’ Williams – Farm / Wilderness Director
Bryce King – Head Master
Robbie Grayson – Editor, Publisher
Caleb Eaton – Web Author
Perry Coghlan – Education Consultant
Warriors That Farm (WTF) is a division of Foundation for Christian Alternatives (FCA). The IRS has ruled that FCA is tax-exempt under section 501c3 and as such donations are tax deductable to the extent allowed by Federal and State laws. Tax deductable gifts of cash or in-kind should be styled to FCA, or WTF. FCA nor its Divisions receive government financial support.
[i] Simple definition for “Certified Wholistic™” or “Certified Wholistically Grown™”: No Chemicals, Poisons or GMOs. ONLY Wholistically Grown™ meat and potatoes (in-fact, all veggies) are poison free.
“Certified Organic”, “Conventionally Grown”, “Certified Natural” (all popular at supermarkets), “Organic” but not “Certified Organic”, “Biodynamic®”/ “Certified Bio-dynamically Grown” – “Certified Wholistic™” means No Chemicals, Poisons or GMOs.
[ii] Niche-Marketing: Since the 1970’s the Corporate World has been ever seeking to consolidate by acquisition and merger into a few Global Corporations controlling the supply of all commerce. The USDA has recently released its finding on the Agriculture segment indicating that only way for the small farm to survive and flourish is to find a niche segment and develop a close working relationship with that market.
[iii] “Nutrient-Dense” Dietary Practices: It is one thing to grow quality meats and produce, but to enjoy the taste and health benefits of such; the food must be prepared in the appropriate manner. The popular grocery store food of today is nearly completely devoid of available nutrition, growing recognition of this drives the very profitable health supplement (pill/capsule) industry.
Knowledge of and practicing certain “old ways” of preparing foods releases their energy in order for our 5 physical senses to stay sharp and clear. By teaching and utilizing the research of such notables as Dr. Weston A. Price we can meet the nutritional requirements the body needs for vigorous health. This level of health spills over into every aspect of our being: physical, mental, spiritual. We’re convinced (and our own lives have proven) older cultures cultivated culinary methods that yielded maximum results for the Life Force Energy required for every person to perform at their best.
No, you do not get the same results “eating out”. Cooking in the traditional manner of our ancestors has a spiritual element to it that has been all but lost in modern food preparations. Food is cheap and people treat it like wise. Food preparation is done as quickly as possible, using the most ‘convenient’ methods with the ‘cook’ often feeling like a ‘slave’ in the kitchen as families do not work together to ‘put the food on the table. Meals are eaten in front of a TV in many homes and often the goal is to “eat and run”.
Nutrient Dense food prep returns the cook as well as those blessed to enjoy the creations from the kitchen back to the high value of food and the moral responsibility to treat the food with respect. Animals lives were taken for these meals and gardens and fields have been attended and nurtured in order to bring forth premium nutrients in the vegetation and flesh that is being consumed. Spending time around a table during a meal brings forth an appreciation for culinary expertise and the vigor and benefits are seen long after the dishes are done.
[iv] Personal Responsibility for Employment: One of the hallmarks of the great American success story has been the notion of individual responsibility, not a “social safety net” — the panoply of federal and state programs that transfer tax dollars to support citizens’ incomes and provide health care. Social Security and Medicare alone account for over $1 trillion of payments in our $15 trillion economy. And both programs are in deep trouble. WTF seeks to keep Veterans independent and productive, sustainable, in body mind and spirit.