As Fort Bragg’s soldiers retire from military service, some now see agriculture as their future. North Carolina’s new free agricultural expansion program is helping make that dream a reality.
Even in the winter garden, future farmers can learn a lot about the business. Taylor Hayworth is used to the hard work at Fort Bragg. She said, “Now I’m a mechanic in the army and I’m leaving in June.”
Hayworth’s husband has already made this transition, so they have an advantage in the farm plans. “We like a bit of homestead and I just want to develop it,” she said.
For other soldiers with similar goals, the NC Agricultural Extension Program provides expert assistance.
Liz Joseph, Cumberland County Cooperative Development Agent, explained the first steps of the training. “We talk about how to start a small business, in addition to going into great detail on how to plant plants and how to make them grow,” she said.
Joseph says the free vocational training program is for those who have 180 days left to complete their military service. They have a wide range of options, such as planting a home garden, raising livestock, or starting their own agribusiness.
They understand that success is not guaranteed. “Because you have to be willing to take risks as a farmer,” Joseph said.
Eric Bullock, who served 19 years in the reserves at Fort Bragg, is leaving the service for health reasons. He sees his future in agribusiness or perhaps in a simple small farm.
He said: “This course gives me the opportunity to learn about the differences in managing both and how to get started on both. It gives you a basis for ideas on which path you want to go.”
All this weeding and planting has a big purpose. “This enables them to continue to serve the community they live in by growing food and providing for their families and communities.”
The Agricultural Expansion Program works with many expert groups and government agencies, such as the Cumberland County Revenue Office, as well as local farms and agribusinesses.
Other partners include Fayetteville Technical College, Small Business Center and “NC Works”.