Fighter to Farmer
Candy Jean Fowler
A disabled Army veteran with PTSD and epilepsy, Candy Jean founded CherAmi Farms Community Outreach in March of 2015. The group’s mission is to utilize the coping skills and mentoring abilities gained through military service to mentor and uplift at-risk youth through equestrian therapy methods, agricultural education, and a youth volunteer program. In the future, she plans to begin a program to educate young ladies in the community on sustainable gardening practices and teach them valuable entrepreneurial skills through its STEM-based curriculum.
Lieutenant Colonel Heather Beaner is a JAG lawyer, wife, mother, and farmer. She farms 2,250 acres of corn and soybeans in South Dakota with her father, where they practice no-till and precision planting across the operation. Still active in the Air Force Reserves, she spends a month each winter at an active-duty base supplementing the legal office there, and she uses her work as an opportunity to educate others about agriculture. The farm operation, now in its fourth generation, has been slowly transitioning to her: She now makes most of the management decisions along with the labor, planting, harvesting, and bookkeeping.
Serena served in the Army’s Military Intelligence unit, 10th Mountain Division, for four years and was deployed to Iraq for 15 months. She lives with her husband (also a veteran) and two children on a 105-year-old family farm in Montana, where they raise 100 head of goats, two horses, and 45 chickens. Serena also works at a local grocery store and volunteers in the community.
Rebecca served as an electrician in the Navy for four years. She bought 23 acres of land and decided to turn it into a farm. Her parents and child are all pulling together to make her dream come true. She has received her Homegrown By Heroes certification and plans to hire homeless veterans and even give them a place to stay on the property, teaching them skills they can use elsewhere.
Sara is a disabled Army veteran and a single mother. She wants to start an animal rescue farm so everyone, no matter the disability or handicap, can have a chance to learn and experience equine/animal farming. Once the farm is running, she believes this program will have a huge community impact. In fact, local farmers, veterinarians, TV show hosts, and others have already committed to helping.
Erin joined the Army in 2004, and after three deployments over four years, she was medically retired in 2010. Erin started her farming operation by growing crops and has expanded to raise animals. She processes the animal fibers into products for handspinners and into yarns. Extra crops are either sold in a pick-your-own fashion or donated to people identified by local churches.
Anita is a former direct commissioned Medical Services Corps Army captain who began her career as a second lieutenant, Battalion S1/Adjutant at the 41st Combat Support Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, and achieved the grade of captain in less than three years due to her commitment and achievements. Serving both at home and abroad, she was committed to delivering her best and received top-block performance evaluations throughout her career. Anita is a member of the Farmer Veteran Coalition, which aims to cultivate a new generation of farmers and food leaders, and develop viable employment and meaningful careers through the collaboration of farming and military communities.
These retired service women have started farms and nonprofit organizations to once again make a difference in the world around them. The Fighter to Farmer contest featured in Successful Farming magazine and Agriculture.com is sponsored by Grasshopper mowers and recently gained over 100 entries from retired U.S. servicemen and women who now farm. Featured here are a group of these entrants as a salute to them and all the other Fighter to Farmers for their work and dedication to the farming and agriculture industry.