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Nothing Left to Lose, Everything to Gain

Posted 3/18/2014 10:35pm by Sara Creech.

I cannot believe it is almost April already. It surely doesn't feel like it! Spring, where are you!?!?

My name is Alicia and I am a beginning farmer. I am proud of that title, because I have wanted to be a farmer for a while now, and I finally am able to tell folks that "yes, I really am a farmer!" I wear this title proudly like a badge of honor; I will be a beginning farmer for the next decade, and I am completely fine with that.

I work here at Blue Yonder Organic Farm, a happy little place nestled off the back roads in North Salem, Indiana. To be perfectly honest, while I was growing up, I never saw myself as...a farmer. I lived in Paris (the real one, in FRANCE!), traveled around Europe and the US, and never thought I'd be living and working on a farm.

I wound up here through a very weird set of circumstances and happenings. I spent six years in the US Army, and when I got out, my world kind of fell apart. It took me a while to sleep without nightmares, to be able to leave my house, to stop thinking about war. I decided to attend graduate school because I really had nothing else going for me (and it was also paid for by the GI Bill, aka your tax dollars), and I was pretty much at the end of my rope.

I worked on my masters degree in international education in Vermont, and along the way I learned a few things: the average age of the American farmer is 60, and there not enough young farmers to replace them. The US needs one million farmers over the next decade or it could face a food crisis. Hhhrrm. Well, that is interesting. While my degree was not directly related to agriculture, I became very interested in agriculture education in the US (I'll get into that in another post) and I was shocked to learn that we are not graduating enough farmers in this country. Without farmers, who is going to grow YOUR food?

I was living in Detroit in 2013, working and writing my thesis and studying urban agriculture (it's fascinating!) when I received a phone call. On a cold, snowy day I received some very bad news: a friend whom I loved, someone who was struggling with PTSD, someone I knew for a decade, someone who was losing his battle--committed suicide. He was a very good friend to me, he inspired me in life, and in death. Through the grieving process I became very angry, and I realized: there has got to be a better way to help military veterans. I cannot sit idly by and let another vet take his own life, knowing I did nothing to help whatsoever.

Ever since that day I had become determined to help veterans heal their souls through agriculture. By spending time in nature and learning useful agriculture skills, I wanted to show veterans that they can heal after war, that nature is magical, calming, and therapeutic.

By the grace of God, I found a veteran who owned a farm and who needed a farm hand. I met Sara in June of 2013 and joined her farm a few months later, learning as much as I can and trying to just take it all in. We are working on a program to train military veterans to be held at the farm sometime next year, and I am super excited!

But for now, the work remains. Seeds are turned into starts, which are planted in the ground; baby chickens and ducks need to be fed, the barn needs to be cleaned and organized. Sara and I work hard, putting our sweat, hope, and love into the farm, a place which is healing us and which will help to heal other vets as well; I'm looking forward to meeting them already.

 

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