We are celebrating Veterans Day! Veterans Day is actually November 11 and we want to honor all that have served in our great nation. I had the opportunity to meet two extraordinary people who happen to be veterans and… farmers! Not only did they serve our country overseas, but they also serve every day in their local community and in the agriculture industry in general by using a regenerative-agriculture approach to their farm.
Brittney and Kris briefly met before their deployment to Afghanistan. Both being pilots gave them something in common.
A Veteran Match Made in Heaven
But it wasn’t until their time overseas that they became close friends. Towards the end of Brittney’s deployment, she received a wedding invitation and asked Kris to be her plus one. I guess you could say after that, the rest is history.
After Afghanistan, Brittney was then deployed to Germany. Her family’s history runs deep in the military, specifically in Germany. Her grandfather fought in World War II and was actually captured by the Germans in Frankfurt.
Ironically, Brittney was staying nearby Frankfurt. For Brittney, this experience was very close to home.
Kris started in the Marines and eventually made his way to the US Army. He didn’t grow up in agriculture, but it was never too far removed in his childhood in Iowa. One of his first jobs was detasseling corn, he attended rodeos, and loved country music.
From Veterans to Farmers
Brittney did not grow up on a farm either. Her father owned 10 acres. She was engaged in agriculture and sometimes helped, but would not consider herself a farm kid.
After their time in the military and constantly traveling, they were ready for stability. When you think of careers that include the whole family and staying put in one area, agriculture definitely comes to mind. So their agriculture journey began with 30 acres.
Since then, their farm is expanding. They still reside on the original land they purchased but have bought more from their neighbors for a total of around 67 acres.
After purchasing their land, they got right to work starting with soil samples. Originally, they wanted to start in the haying business. They quickly realized their land was nutrient-deprived. This made it extremely difficult to produce the high-quality horse hay they were striving to grow.
That’s when they decided regenerative agriculture was the way they wanted to go.
But what is regenerative agriculture?
Regenerative agriculture can be defined as any form of agricultural practice that actively restores soil quality, biodiversity, ecosystems health, water quality while producing sufficient food of high nutritional quality.
Everything on their farm is how nature intended from livestock to produce. And it’s plain to see, they love it!
Their livestock is pasture-raised with rotational grazing patterns on our different paddocks. The cows are grass-fed and during the winter months, they are provided organic hay and minerals. After the cows rotate to different paddocks of land, the chicken will follow and graze.
Chickens are great for helping to fertilize the soil. Chickens help spread the cow manure over a larger area. They eat the fly larva which helps reduce the fly population in the pastures. Chickens eat bugs and grass but they also provide them with organic chicken feed.
The Veteran Coalition
But when they aren’t farming, they are working on their potential non-profit, K & B Liberty Veteran Coalition. In the beginning, they simply wanted to give back to the veteran community and their local community.
They started by donating their farm-fresh eggs and frozen chicken to food banks. After more research, they wanted to do the same for veteran homeless shelters. Luckily, they came across Liberty Place, a homeless shelter housing 16 veterans. A short 20-minute drive up the road, K & B Farms is now the sole provider of eggs and chicken for Liberty Place, donating weekly.
But they don’t want their mission to stop there.
Being huge advocates of mental health and suicide awareness for veterans, they have one goal in mind: to serve their minds healthy food too! So why not use their home-grown food to improve struggling veterans’ way of life?
The end goal for their coalition is to create farming plots around metropolitan areas providing access to healthy food. Similar to nonprofit community gardens, they want to one day expand to 10 acres and include an agriculture education system.
I am completely inspired by Brittney and Kris’s story. Their impact on their local, veteran and agriculture community is outstanding. Learn more about how you can give back to their coalition, here.
We all eat, and that is why farming will always matter. Everybody Eats is where the stories of food and farming intersect.
These stories told through my FarmHer lens connect us to our food and more importantly, the people behind it.
Everybody Eats is a collection of stories of those who protect our rural communities, who grow our food with extraordinary care, and who provide support, education, and assistance to make sure Everybody Eats.