By: Donald Jarvis – May, 2017
What started as an idea has now become a reality. The brainchild of 29 year Jake Alexander, ‘Vets and Veggies’ aims to provide help to our veterans. Jake, who is not a veteran himself, says “if it wasn’t for our veterans we wouldn’t be able to live the American Dream.”
This is not the first time Jake has helped or worked with veterans. He owns property in New Bedford and has rented apartments to them. Jake learned firsthand some of the struggles and obstacles veterans face. His goal now is to expand on what he has done in the past and provide more than just a place to live, but to provide a safe place for them to learn skills, a trade and a place to heal. Modeled off the ‘care farm’ concept from Europe, Vets and Veggies serves as a program that provides social and educational services as well as other services for our veterans.
The housing will help veterans in Massachusetts. The housing facility comes with common areas shared by the veterans such as a laundry room, bathrooms, kitchen, living room and dining room. The facility can house up to eight male veterans of all ages and eras. Each veteran gets their own room and will be required to carry out repairs that may be needed on the home. Jake feels this will provide them a great way to learn about the kind of work needed to care for a home once they move on and into their own place.
Veterans will learn how to reduce waste of natural resources, learn different techniques to improve soil conditions, build self-esteem and learn how to build sustainable gardens to help feed the community. Providing them an opportunity to re-integrate into the community and learn how to organize and set up a long term sustainable income.
The farm manager, Chip Pinder, a veteran with two tours in Afghanistan always dreamed about opening a farm for veterans. He recently learned about Jake’s and together they joined forces, sharing a common dream. They are the driving force behind Vets and Veggies. The farm will sell produce, farm shares and have already had pigs slaughtered and ready to be sold.
Recently securing funding is the biggest challenge for the farm. ‘The infrastructure is here, I need to start bringing in funding so I can start hiring staff to help run it’ said Jake who has at this point been self-funding the farm. A GoFundMe has been started as well as a couple fundraiser events have been planned for this year. A pig roast and corn-hole tournament is scheduled for June 3rd at the farm. Jake and his team are looking for Raffle items for the June 3rd event.
If you are interested in learning more about Vets and Veggies, or being a sponsor visit: www.vetsandveggies.com and don’t forget to Like them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vetsandveggies