This past Friday we caught up with Growing Veterans in Lynden, WA, a local non-profit who empowers veterans to cultivate purpose and belonging by growing food, community and each other. Executive Director, Sean Dalgarn, took the time to provide insight to his military background, day to day operations of Growing Veterans & Friday happened to be the day to prep sauerkraut.
Growing Veterans is an organization founded on the principle to end the isolation that leads to veteran suicide. They allow veterans returning home to trade guns for garden tools, bullets for seeds, and use their hands to create new roots. They do this through employment, internships and work-study for veterans to work on their certified organic farm.
The farm is located in the luscious Pacific Northwest, between the saltwater of the Puget Sound and the vast mountains of the Cascade Range. Growing Veterans invites members of the local community to volunteer on the farm as well -- “because it’s impossible for a veteran to fully come home without being an active member of their community again. Vet's are welcomed home, stereotypes are broken, and friendships are formed.”
By growing cabbage, onions, kale, squash, zucchini, garlic, tomatoes and much more, these veterans take steps to bringing life back into the world. Working together to experience the process of a seed taking to the soil and watching the plant grow to life allows for reflection on mental health and peer support. The fresh produce is a byproduct of Growing Veterans Farming. “The core of our mission is to end isolation though creating purpose and belonging. We strive to accomplish this by growing food, community, and each other. These are the three pillars of our organization; food, community, and each other.”
This past Wednesday was Veteran’s Day - we thank and honor Active Military, Retirees and Veterans. Everyday, Vets can receive 10% off all Trayvax Gear everyday. Follow this link to follow the Thank You for Your Service discount program.
“Sean served in the United States Air Force from 2005 to 2009 as a Security Forces airman. He deployed to Iraq in 2005, 2007 and Kuwait in 2008. After being honorably discharged from active duty service, Sean completed a Bachelors in Arts in Human Services at Western Washington University. Growing Veterans provides Sean the opportunity to share his passion for sustainable agriculture and veteran advocacy.”
Sean started out as a volunteer with Growing Veterans, he moved up through the ranks to making it his full time job. “Ultimately, the biggest takeaway from working at Growing Veterans was the connection I had been missing.” Surrounded by his military brothers and sisters he has the opportunity to relate and share experiences with, to grow & heel with.
Beyond working directly with fellow veterans, Sean works directly with community members, businesses and other non-profit organizations, like the local Bellingham food bank, to donate fresh fruits and vegetables. Growing veterans have produced hops for locally brewed beers and even peppers for a popular local hot sauce company. Sean connects with the process of growth through a garden; from the amazing connections with individuals it provides to the delicious benefits each harvest produces.
“While we are a veterans service organization, we are not a veterans club. Anyone who wants to be out on the farm is welcome.”
If you are active military, retiree or veteran and would like to get involved visit GrowingVeterans.org. Due to the coronavirus some interactions have moved to an online format. They still are accepting volunteers around the local community but with newly implemented precautions. Check out there website for more details on how to get involved.
Donating is easy on their website as well. Allowing members across the country to contribute from a distance. They take recurring or a one time payment.
To all the active members of the military and veterans, thank you and Happy Veterans Day!
Brian Z - Trayvax Content Creator
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