The Veteran’s Farm was started by Sgt. Adam Burke, an OIF/OEF combat veteran and Purple Heart recipient who was wounded in battle during a 15 month tour in Iraq. In 2009, Adam was moved when he noticed a young able and willing veteran sitting in the mall hungry and depressed. He could see the veteran was too proud to ask for help and knew he had to find a way to help his fellow soldiers. Just a hand out would not be sufficient, but a sustainable way to get their life back on track was the key. This is where the concept to combine therapy, work, education, and socialization through growing blueberries and blackberries was discovered.
The veterans farm was developed to unite disabled veterans and to help them overcome disabilities such as (PTSD) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and (TBI) Traumatic Brain Injuries through “Horticulture Therapy”. Through different programs, veterans will have a chance to “Earn While They Learn”. The Veterans Farm will be a place that veterans can work and enjoy being in the outdoors. The farm will provide a place to find a spiritual connection and to socialize with others.
This type of work will provide the much needed horticulture therapy. Based on sound research evidence, horticulture therapy has been proven to help with cognitive issues by helping veterans learn new skills and language, as well as improve decision making and problem solving skills. It also helps veterans with psychological development, physical improvements from working in the fresh air, moving their bodies and adapting to physical changes in a non threatening environment. Horticulture therapy can stimulate both gross and fine motor activities for those who have TBI. This would assist to retrain their muscles and brains. This would provide personal life control with cognitive and meaningful activities.
Photographed are two chairs in a farm field under an oak tree where Adam Burke spoke with another returned veteran from Iraq to talk about their fears and disabilities; one in particular PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), the number one mental disability of our returned soldiers today. After a few hours of conversation under this big old oak tree in Adam’s farm field, our veteran said to Adam, “This is the most peace I have had in years. Thank you.”