Archi’s Acres: Promoting Veteran Wellness through Sustainable Agriculture

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Archi’s Acres has long been at the forefront of sustainable agricultural programs that promote Veteran wellness.  Stand For The Troops is proud to support their endeavors which allows Veterans to gain a valuable and self-sustaining education in farming.

Karen and Colin Archipley of Archi's Acres

Karen and Colin Archipley of Archi’s Acres

Found below are excerpts from a letter from Karen Archipley which explains Archi’s Acres programs in more detail:

“My name is Karen Archipley and I am a Co-Founder of Archi’s Acres, B Corp and Archi’s Institute for Sustainable Agriculture – and our accredited venture with Cal Poly Pomona (a college member of the California university system).

 “As a military family, when my husband Colin Archipley returned from his third tour in Iraq, our farm became his career and next place of service.    When he came to his End of Service, so many of the men he served with were re-enlisting due to not being able to find gainful employment.  Our farm model had proved out already in 2007 to almost equal Colin’s income just with a small greenhouse growing basil (which is what we are known for).    We had our first Veteran on the farm in July 2007; to date we have now trained over 450 students.

“When they graduate it marks day one of our extended relationship as we not only train them, we help identify employment and other business opportunities.  Additionally, they can review what they learned studying with us whenever they need to. We also have quite a few homeless veterans come through our program and for many we have been able to then connect them with farms where they now manage orchards, groves etc and have their own quarters on those farms.

“One story is Paul N. who came through our program last year.  He was very enthusiastic about organic farming to the point that we hired him as our Field Instructor for Lab Hours.  As we got to know him better, we found out that he was living in many of his classmates garages, couch surfing.  We were able to connect him with an 8 acre Apple Orchard looking for someone to take over their management and willing to train him in Apples.  They also offered him a 3 bedroom house on the property that the retiring manager was soon to move out of.   Or a studio apartment next door.  Paul is now a full member on that farm and has been there almost a year.   The 85 year old past manager took him under his wing to teach Apples and now the owner is helping him to purchase the land next door and together they are building a cidery on the property.   He is fully employed with a future.    Paul spends his holidays with us (for the second year) and now has a girlfriend with a child and they are excited to be moving into the 3 bedroom house.   This is just one of many stories.

“The grants that are currently needed ($13,500 for the class) are also compelling stories:  One such is Sarah H, who is still active duty, Sarah came to our program from Florida and had hoped to use her GI BILL, but due to shocking local bureaucracy nitpicking was not able to use it – even though Washington ruled she could.   Usually we would have had to turn her away to wait for another class until we could find a grant, but Sarah’s situation was different, she had found out about class while stationed in Florida.   She worked out with her command that due to her End of Service being in January, they would allow her to move with her two small children and her mother who she was taking care of after a surgery to North Carolina, their family land. Her Battalion deployed right after to Japan where they are still.   When the bureaucratic problem happened with the GI BILL, had we not allowed her to take the class, Sarah would have had 48 hours to be back in Florida with her family or would have been considered AWOL.  She also would have returned to a different command, which can be a challenging situation when there’s no history and where it could have been seen as special treatment for her to be allowed to come to us in the first place.

“Because of my husband’s service, we more than understand and therefore would NEVER allow that to happen.  Instead, we both let her take the class and took the responsibility for her financial debt.   Please know we are a very small farm and when we do not have grants for these students it comes right out of our basil income – which is how we live.

“As you consider donating to Stand For The Troops to assist our students, I wanted to let you know how much that means to us and tell you the story of those students who are so worthy of supporting. Your donation to Stand For The Troops goes 100% to the students via Cal Poly Pomona for tuition.  Stand For The Troops is our absolute Champion in assisting students!

“Please know if you are in a position to help, it means so much for so many.   For 2016 we actually still owe $13,500.   We offer follow up for all our graduates if you would like to follow their stories.  If willing for next year, $30,000 would help 10 students with partial grants, which really makes a difference in their lives.”

During this holiday season, do consider our Veterans and help them build a future in sustainable farming.  If you would like to contribute to their education, please CLICK HERE so SFTT can continue to support these vital programs.

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