from 2010 to 2014, Dirt and Duty Community Market Garden grew fresh, pesticide-free, non-GMO produce at home gardens of Veterans and along the tracks where a dozen children learned basic gardening skills. Like all grass roots efforts, for several seasons a few of us showed up occasionally to nurture the land, explore the growth, build the soil and connect in community. During the final season, Junior Master Gardener students grew potatoes, ate the raspberries, tasted kale and grew some purple peacock flowering broccoli along with cantalope, tomatoes, brussels sprouts and lots of herbs and some flowers. Our DIRT AND DUTY garden plot has since composted into personal endeavors, though founder Holly Koster continues to mentor beginning farmers with her husband, Tim, at their family farm Grateful Plains in rural Grand Ridge, Illinois.
Farmer Veterans... Veteran/farmer teams are the answer to many displaced service men and women returning home to communities with low job security or vets looking to create something of their own that offers peace of mind, self sufficiency and deep pride upon harvest. Farming is quickly becoming an answer to many families navigating PTSD, too. For veterans and civilians alike, the leather couch is getting ousted for one on one time with nature. Special thanks to FarmHER and the Farmer Veteran Coalition who guided a few residents and neighbors, friends and sometimes unwilling relatives to design and develop an effective garden program to educate, heal and grow. We are hopeful the garden goals of those personal plots show up big for the Growing Vibrant Communities campaign in Grand Ridge, Illinois.