STERLING COLLEGE HELPS VETERANS LAUNCH FARMS WITH $10,000 GRANTS UPON GRADUATION
—Veteran College-to-Farm Program established in partnership with Center for an Agricultural Economy, the Farmer Veteran Coalition, and Yankee Farm Credit –
JUNE 23, 2015 • CRAFTSBURY COMMON, VT • Building on the growing interest of veterans in farming at a time when the Department of Labor reports that the nation’s farmers are nearing retirement with an average age of 56, Sterling College has announced the creation of the Veteran College-to-Farm Program.
Sterling was among the first institutions in the United States to focus on sustainable practices in agriculture and, starting this fall, veterans that complete a degree in Sustainable Agriculture or Sustainable Food Systems at the Vermont college will receive a $10,000 grant to launch a farm or food business.
“We are proud to launch this first-of-its-kind program and enlist veterans in furthering a more sustainable future for farming,” said Sterling College President Matthew Derr. “With these grants, Sterling will help start the post-service careers of veterans who will redesign the nation’s food system into one based in environmental stewardship that is more just, healthy, and doesn’t exacerbate climate change.”
Eligibility to join the first cohort is limited to veterans who are admitted and enroll at Sterling College for September 2015. Assistance with post-graduation careers in food entrepreneurship will be augmented by continued support from the Center for an Agricultural Economy and Yankee Farm Credit.
The Center for an Agricultural Economy, based in Hardwick, Vermont, will offer business and technical services for farm and food businesses started by veterans. Through its multi-use shared food business incubator, the Vermont Food Venture Center, veterans will have access to food safety training and regulatory assistance, industrial production kitchens, and specialized food business advising, such as marketing, nutritional labeling, and more.
“With our shared-use food hub facility, we’ve worked with over 200 specialty food and farm products in the past four years,” said Sarah Waring, Executive Director of the Center for an Agricultural Economy. “The range of services can be tailored to meet the needs of each veteran’s specific enterprise. With this new program, we’re thrilled to partner with Sterling to provide support as the next generation of agricultural entrepreneurs is fostered in Vermont and beyond.”
In collaboration with Sterling’s partners at Yankee Farm Credit’s Farm Start program, each veteran who meets the criteria of the program will also be provided with access to business and finance planning consulting and management development programs. Additionally, based on creditworthiness, qualified participants will be eligible for the FarmStart program which includes up to a $50,000 working capital investment, a personal FarmStart advisor, and a written business plan.
“Yankee Farm Credit is enthusiastic to collaborate in the launch of the Veteran College-to-Farm Program at Sterling,” said George Putnam, President and CEO of Yankee Farm Credit. “We are proud to work with America’s farmer veterans and look forward to this partnership to help support the transition from service to college and then to launching farm businesses where veterans will continue to serve their neighbors and communities.”
This new program will enroll five students for September 2015. Priority will be given to those who apply by July 15, 2015. For more information, please contact Mr. Tim Patterson, Director of Admission, via email at email@example.com or by telephone at 802-586-7711 x124. For more information about Sterling College and the College-to-Farm Program, please visit www.sterlingcollege.edu/collegetofarm.
About Sterling College
Founded in 1958 in Craftsbury Common, Vermont, Sterling College is the leading voice in higher education for environmental stewardship. The College was among the first colleges in the United States to focus on sustainability through academic majors in Ecology, Environmental Humanities, Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems, and Outdoor Education. Sterling College is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and is New England’s only federally recognized Work College.
Christian Feuerstein, Director of Communications, Sterling College