AgrAbility eNote banner
September 2016


Kansas AgrAbility partnered with the Farmer Veteran Coalition of Kansas and the Kansas Farmers Union to present a series of three farm tours in July, titled Summer Fun Farm Tour Series (SFFTS). The tours were designed for new and aspiring farmers and combined farm stops with classroom presentations. Don Craig & wife, Loretta showing two-wheel tractorThree of the nine farms toured were owned and operated by veterans. One of the farmer veterans, Don Craig, is a recipient of a Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC)Fellowship grant. In the photo, Don (foreground blue shirt) and his wife Loretta (center in green shirt), both U.S. Army retired, show visitors the two-wheel tractor they use on their Leavenworth County, KS, farm. They started Prairie Garden Farm with Dexter cattle, laying hens, honey bees, herbs, vegetables, and fruit trees. They were recently awarded the FVC Fellowship Fund grant to assist with installation of a U-pick blackberry operation.

Jacob & Jennifer Thomas at JET Produce and MeatsFeatured farms showcased vegetable and fruit production, beef and sheep production, agritourism, specialty crops, sheep dairying, and honey production. In the photo, at JET Produce and Meats, beginning, aspiring, and veteran farmers gathered around Jacob and Jennifer Thomas to learn how they are diversifying the family farm in Leavenworth County, Kansas. Their goal is to produce high quality fruits and vegetables for local sales. They expanded last year to offer USDA-inspected, grain-finished Angus beef, pork, lamb, and cage-free eggs.

Session format featured tours of three farms in the morning followed by lunch of locally-sourced products and an educational session. Educational session topics were: "Food Safety and Modernization Act," "Grant Writing Strategies," and "Developing a Business Plan". Each session had an attendance of over 40, with an average attendance of 43. Tours were conducted on August 1, 15, and 29, originating and ending at the National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame in Bonner Springs, KS, with farms located within a 35-mile radius of the Center in and around Leavenworth County, Kansas, home to the U.S. Army's Fort Leavenworth and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. Additional partners for the tour series included: the National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame, Fresh Farm HQ, Kansas Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Alternative Crops, Frontier Farm Credit, Farm Aid, and the Kansas Beginning Farmers Coalition.

Submitted by Kerri Ebert