SALINAS, Calif. - A new organic farming company in Monterey County is aimed at training and employing military veterans.
Operations at Semper Fresh Farms are set to begin this week.
The company will be completely owned and operated by veterans, with a focus on post 9/11 vets. The company says it hopes to be able to help them learn valuable skills they can later take to a larger farm.
Currently the company has 20 acres of land, and used equipment, but is seeking donations of other supplies. The farm also has partnered with the Farmer Veteran Coalition, so that local agriculture companies can make tax-deductible donations.
The farm is looking to offer 100 different kinds of heirloom tomatoes, a variety of other organic fruits, and vegetables. This year's planned crops include walnuts, pomegranates, raspberries, pears, plums, herbs, olives, kale and broccoli.
Co-owner Bryan Showalter said it's not just about growing fruits and vegetables but also giving the opportunity to veterans to further their interest of farming. Because Showalter also has a culinary education, Semper Fresh Farms will also give veterans the chance to learn about cooking as well as farming and help turn these skills into careers.
Once the farm is fully operational, the owners want to have a "You Pick" type of farm where people will come out to pick their own fruits and vegetables and have them cooked and prepared right there on the farm.
"Not only will this be a great opportunity for students and families to learn more about farming and agriculture," Marine Captain John Wagner. "It will also be a fantastic opportunity to teach vocational skills to our veterans in Monterey County's largest industry, agriculture."