Local veterans are “Armed to Farm”

Special Reports

BATH, N.Y. (WETM) – The transition from military life back to civilian life can be hard for our veterans. Many asking themselves when they return home for good, “So what’s next?”

There is a program that has recently expanded to the Bath VA Medical Center, which is providing our local veterans with some answers to that question. The program is called – Armed to Farm.

Chris Flickinger grows shiitake mushrooms at his farm in Wayland. The U.S. Army veteran learned how after taking part in an Armed to Farm workshop. The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), presented the training in partnership with Cornell’s Small Farms Program and the Canandaigua VA.

“When I got out in 2017 I attended my first Cornell training. It was a log growing shiitake class,” Army veteran Chris Flickinger said. “I looked at our land, that we just recently purchased, and wanted to figure out ways to make the land pay us. So the land was not costing us money. I realized we could achieve that easily with what we have available,” Flickinger continued.

U.S. Army Veteran Chris Flickinger shows his shiitake mushroom logs

The Armed the Farm program provides sustainable agriculture training to our local veterans. Dean Koyanagi is the Veterans Program Associate with the Cornell Small Farms Program. Koyanagi said he promotes the different training programs available to our veterans, connecting them to the type of farming they may be interested in.

“It’s really hard for veterans to find all the resources that are out there, and to navigate through all of the different programs,” Koyanagi said. “We try to link the veterans to whatever is out there,” Koyanagi added.

The Armed to Farm program is not only giving our veterans the tools to thrive in a new business endeavor, but it’s also helping them make the transition back to civilian life.

“It helped me transition back in the real world,” Flickinger said. “It’s giving me something to strive for. Set some goals, helping my family establishing new dreams, and new hopes,” Flickinger continued.

Shiitake mushrooms from Flick’s Farm in Wayland.

Flickinger owns Flick’s Farm in Wayland. They sell their produce at a variety of local places, including The Olde County Store & More in North Cohocton, New York.

The Armed to Farm program is now expanding at the Bath VA Medical Center. That’s coming up in part two of our special report “Armed to Farm,” Friday only on 18 News @ 6:00 p.m.

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