Off a narrow dirt road in the middle of Kansas, retired Army Col. Gary LaGrange, his daughter Shari LaGrange-Aulich and a group of veterans are cultivating a future for service members and American agriculture.
Three hundred and twenty acres nestled between Manhattan, Kansas and Fort Riley will be the future site of S.A.V.E. Farm, which stands for Service member Agricultural Vocation Education.
“S.A.V.E. Farm is a response to several national needs,” LaGrange said. “Sixty-three percent of farms in this country are in the last generation, and so there is a great need for new and younger farmers.”
The S.A.V.E. Farm will offer veterans a year-long training and residency, where they can learn the business of farming and have access to holistic care, along with their families.
“The basis of this farm is all about growth and new life,” LaGrange-Aulich said.
LaGrange-Aulich, a clinical psychologist, will oversee the health and wellness programs at S.A.V.E. She approached her father with the idea for the farm several years ago, and they decided to pilot the program through teaching veterans how to keep bees.
“Whenever you’re in combat, it’s a tough thing,” said LaGrange, who served multiple tours during the Vietnam War. “We have an obligation as a country I think… to help them to get into farming, particularly with such great needs out there.”