The 19th Annual Georgia Organics Conference is nearly upon us! In anticipation of the featured In Depth Workshops and Educational Sessions, we reached out to presenters for some additional information about their topic.
In this edition of Behind The Conference, we spoke with Jon Jackson, founder of STAG Vets. Jackson founded the organization to help other veterans with invisible wounds, many of whom live with Post Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury sustained in combat.
Saturday Educational Session
Track 1: Farmer Resources
Jon Jackson & Eric Simpson – Strength In Numbers: STAG Vets and the West Georgia Farmer’s Cooperative
Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, 2:30 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.
Jon will highlight the inspiring efforts of veteran farmers and actions taken to improve their communities through local food. Read the full session description here.
1. Who or what inspired you to join your field and how?
This is a very complex question. I was literally sitting at the warrior transition unit wondering what programs are out there for a disabled vet like myself. It dawned on me that there is no program that addresses the needs that veterans need in its entirety, and that’s why I created STAG VETS INC to fill that gap.
2. What does resilience in farming mean to you?
Ironically farming is like the military. You have to expect the unexpected. You can plan all day and night to come up with the perfect plan, and something from left field distorts everything.
It’s not so much how resilient you are. It’s how positive you are as a person to turn bad situations into opportunities. People forget that learning is an opportunity even if it means something bad for the farm. That’s how we grow.
3. What is the toughest aspect of farming, and what helps you get through it?
Funding is the toughest aspect of farming. As a disabled veteran, you would think there are programs and resources out there to help somebody like me. But there really isn’t. So I have to blaze my own trails and rely on the community for support.
4. Why are you excited to present about your topic and what are some key takeaways attendees will get from your session?
We have created the most comprehensive innovative approach to farming on a large scale that address two needs: Healing veterans and creating access to locally grown whole and natural foods for everyone, not just the rich.
We feel that our program, if implemented in Georgia, will create a model for the rest of the country that will give vets the healing they deserve and create an economic environment that’s rich for people in the community to take part of — especially small farmers who are trying to compete with larger corporations.
5. What do you see happening in the food system that makes this conference an important one?
Georgia Organics is light years ahead of many states in implementing food systems that are user friendly for small farmers. What I would like to see is more partnerships with my organization so that we can help and assist small farmers get their products to shelf. Our vets can manage processing facilities, safety, environmental aspects, and all the supplements that makes bringing food to the table important.