On a windy and wet Saturday, a group of veterans were putting some finishing touches on a greenhouse near Luckiamute Center. A project since early November, on this cold day the work was being fueled by hot coffee and warm conversations.
The potluck held on Saturday, Jan. 27 at the LBCC and OSU Student Veterans Farm, located on LBCC’s Albany Campus, was a way for veterans involved in the Veterans Club to come together and work on a common project. It was also good place to get a bite to eat, and share stories with other veterans.
The Veterans Farm was the brainchild of Lisa Akers, 35, an OSU graduate of Earth Science. After getting out of the Navy in 2002, she worked on a farm where she found a sense of pride and belonging.
“When I got out there weren’t any veterans going to school, so working on a farm brought me back,” said Akers.
As a graduate of Oregon State University, Akers first intended to put together the Veterans Farm on the OSU campus. The process turned out to come with a long wait time, so, after some planning, she was able to get the project approved at LBCC.
Since Nov. 3, the farm has been moving steadily forward. With a lot of help from donations, Akers’ vision is finally coming to fruition. Home Depot was able to donate a greenhouse, also organizing a volunteer work group to come out to the farm and put it together. In the coming weeks, Akers is expecting the donation of a gazebo.
Akers wants the farm to be a place for veterans to come learn and work, but also a place for them to seek peace and comfort in the presence of others.
“It’s a good place for veterans to still have camaraderie.” Said Jacob Tudor, a veteran of the Navy.
Although veterans currently working on the project most likely won’t get to see the fruits of their labor, Sean Olson, an Army veteran and LBCC graduate, believes it’s more important to focus on the incoming student veteran population.
“We won’t be able to use this stuff, because we will go on to other things, but imagine a new student coming in and having this all put together. That’s what we want to do, we want to make it easy.” Said Olson.
Apart from the farm offering veterans a place to get together, it will soon be home to a variety of crops. Akers plans on growing a number of vegetables, and micro vegetables, which are harvested while they are still growing.
Akers’ vision includes participants seeing their food before it has hit the plate.
“It’s important for people to not lose sight of where their food comes from” Said Travis Ely, a veteran of the Coast Guard.
Akers is soon planning a weekly meeting to include LBCC students who are not veterans, in hopes this will help all students find common ground.
“Anyone willing to put in the work is welcome here,” said Olson.