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Meet Steve Smith of Farmers Assisting Returning Military

Today we’d like to introduce you to Steve Smith.

Their founding members, Steve & James Jeffers, served in the Army together during their various deployments to Iraq and beyond from 1999-2009. James and Steve were initially stationed together at Fort Hood, where they first met. James served in combat as part of OIF (Operation Iraqi Freedom) from 2004-2008 alongside Orlando Garcia, Charlie Erwin, and Jeff Morris.

After returning from two tours in the Middle East, James and Steve struggled to adjust to civilian life. During this time, James and Steve were both growing their own food for their families in North Texas and became heavily involved in the local, organic food movement. They found farming to be both therapeutic and grounding. The work was rigorous and regimented, and ultimately rewarding.

With the help of the Farmers Veteran Coalition, they began to Eat the Yard in 2012, a closed-loop vegetable production, composting and edible landscape farming business in Dallas, TX. They are urban farmers that use any space available in their community to grow food for local restaurants, grocers, and community members. Gradually and organically, Steve and James realized how healing, rewarding, and important farming is in their lives.

Tragically, the last few years have brought excessive loss. Several of brothers in arms took their own lives after leaving service, and the “22 a day” campaign attracted their attention. Like James and Steve, Charlie, Orlando, and Jeff – leaders in these units to which these men belonged – needed to prevent such untimely, devastating event from occurring.

From personal experience, they knew how rewarding and fulfilling farming is for the well-being of a veteran. They wanted to find a way to integrate returning soldiers into civilian life via farm life, so they started a non-profit of their own, F.A.R.M.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
We’ve had tremendous support along the way. With any organization, funding has been our biggest obstacle.

Farmers Assisting Returning Military – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Farmers Assisting Returning Military is a Veterans 501c3. Our goal is to renew mission and purpose to all military Veterans through ‘dirt therapy.’. Founded in 2015, F.A.R.M. seeks to connect Veterans with their peers and assist them in finding the existing services that they are unaware of and get them the services they deserve.

By providing a peer-to-peer mentorship, the program supports the needs of the Veteran and empowers them to want to get involved in something bigger than themselves once again. Farming is structured, regimented and hard work- everything a Veteran is accustomed to and with the average farmer retiring, F.A.R.M. sets out to train the next generation of Veteran farmers that will provide meaningful work and career opportunities in agriculture and allow them to continue to serve their country and community by providing healthy, fresh, organic food.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Giving Veterans the opportunity to grow and shine once again.

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