Local vets graduate farm program

Vets given acres of farmland to continue work

Published On: May 29 2013 05:42:48 AM EDT   Updated On: May 29 2013 08:23:12 PM EDT
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

A group of military veterans graduated from the Veterans Farm Fellowship program Wednesday. The program gives wounded warriors a chance to work and heal.

The founder, Adam Burke, was recently recognized by President Obama with the nation's second highest honor for a civilian, the Presidential Citizens Medal.

Wednesday morning, two former combat Marines, a Navy veteran and their wives will get land and the equipment they need to run farms, providing for their families and helping the community.

For six months, they've been working at Veterans Farm as part of an intensive farm training program that uses horticulture therapy to help disabled combat veterans reintegrate back into society.

"The equipment and the land and stuff is basically a key turn operation, so they could have a farm of their own to be able to provide to the community fresh fruits and vegetables but also to be able to provide for their family," said Burke.

Blake Grosdidier, 24, a former combat Marine is receiving a five-acre farm. He's already growing a variety of peas on it and there's also a pond on the land where he can raise fish. This will help Blake provide for his family and he also has plans to hire a couple other veterans to help him.

"To be employed whether it's self employed or employed working for a larger farming organization the key is to be a business leader and to be a community leader here in Jacksonville, and the point is to get these guys up get them motivated and find a new sense of purpose in life," said Burke.

Adam Ennis, a former combat Marine and his wife, Jenny Ennis are also graduating. They're working on starting an organization to feed Jacksonville's homeless with the fruits and vegetables they grow on their land.

"When he came to us all he knew was the Marines. He was a good marine and that's what he knew and we helped integrate him back, to help him to learn to be an entrepreneur; To learn to be a business leader in the community," said Burke.

Navy veteran Shaun Ranking and his wife, Gail are also getting two-acres of land and equipment for their new farm.

Adam Burke spent nine years in the army and he suffered a brain injury while in Iraq. When he came home, he turned his family's farm into Veterans Farm, giving other wounded vets a chance to work and heal.