The Sun News

Military veteran starts organic backyard garden

Billy Brown dumps a bag of organic soil into a raised garden bed on Friday, Nov. 4, 2016. Brown was volunteering with Farm Again/AgrAbility Project to to make the beds for disabled veteran Tim Anderson. Farm Again/AgrAbility Project is a Georgia program that helps farmers with disabilities get back to farming again.
Billy Brown dumps a bag of organic soil into a raised garden bed on Friday, Nov. 4, 2016. Brown was volunteering with Farm Again/AgrAbility Project to to make the beds for disabled veteran Tim Anderson. Farm Again/AgrAbility Project is a Georgia program that helps farmers with disabilities get back to farming again. wmarshall@macon.com

In a subdivision off of Feagin Mill Road in Warner Robins, one homeowner’s backyard has turned into an organic farm.

Tim Anderson, a disabled veteran, decided to try his hand at farming nearly three years ago. Now, with the help of Farm Again/AgrAbility Project, Anderson can realize his dream of growing and selling his organic vegetables.

“Gardening is fun. It is exercise for me so I won’t just sit in the house,” Anderson said.

Anderson, who is a former U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force service member, lost part of his right leg in a motorcycle accident in 2005. He uses a prosthetic leg, which makes it hard to bend over and kneel down while gardening.

Growing up on his great grandparents’ farm near Baltimore, Maryland, he dreamed of one day owning a farm. After his accident, he thought about all the space in his backyard and about converting it into a small farm.

Farm Again sent staff members to assess the space and to help Anderson with a business plan. Anderson plans to grow vegetables such as kale, collards and cauliflower in his garden.

The program sent volunteers to Anderson’s backyard Nov. 4 to construct six raised beds for gardening. Thanks to volunteers from Farm Again — as well as Perry High School’s agriculture department, student volunteers and Houston County farmers — the work was done in a few short hours.

The raised bed material, along with 30 cubic feet of organic soil, were all donated.

Farm Again helps disabled farmers acquire the tools they need to continue farming. Since 2006, the program has helped 1,200 farming families, said Jimmy Hill, engagement director.

This is the first project for Farm Again in Warner Robins, Hill said.

“We helped Tim [Anderson] with his business plan. We want him to be successful and make enough money to make a living,” he said.

So far, Anderson’s rainbow carrots have been a hit at the International City Farmer’s Market. He gets organic seeds and grows the carrots, which are orange, white and purple.

Anderson hopes to encourage other veterans to choose to grow their own food. He started an organization called Green Planet Vets at www.greenplanetvets.com.

Local vocational agriculture teacher Phil Gentry, from Perry High School, said Hill spoke to a group of farmers. When Hill called about a project a week later, Gentry jumped at the chance to make a difference.

“You don’t get a lot of these opportunities,” Gentry said about being able to help a disabled veteran with a farming project.

Gentry brought four students to help with a lot of the lifting. He sees this as a way for his FFA members to not only gain experience of making an organic raised bed garden, but also the satisfaction of helping someone else.

“It just gives you a good feeling to help this vet who did six tours of duty. They will be more excited about this story than anything else they’ve done,” Gentry said.

For more information about the AgriAbility Project, visit www.farmagain.com, email Hill at jimmyh@uga.edu or call 404-372-8680.

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