Gary LaGrange spoke to us about the Service member Agriculture Vocation Education (SAVE) program that gets veterans into farming. 63% of farms are in their last generation. With young relatives not wanting to farm, there is a need for others to step in. We will need a million new farmers. This program helps veterans to transition into the healing profession of farming. It provides training and experience for 11 1/2 months so they have the knowledge to do the job. At the end, students receive a certificate in farm management.
SAVE is operating a farm and wants to build it into a “farmiversity” where they can learn together all types of farming and engage in practical research. The two tracts of farmland, near KState, was designed by KState architectural students, and SAVE is in the process of taking bids for the buildings and other features planned. In the meantime the farm is in operation with crops and animals, including cows and chickens. Beekeeping is a major program. There will be housing for up to 75 students and their families when the plan is complete. Much has been accomplished by in kind donations of equipment and animals.
The plan is to spread the program to other land grant universities. The hope is that future Federal farm bills will provide funds for this expansion. Graduates are then placed on farms as interns or farm managers, some participating in a succession plan so that property passes to the veteran at the end of a certain term.
SAVE holds joint training programs with the KSU student farm, including beekeeping. The plan is for veterans a KSU students to continue to cooperate to enhance the student farm.