Farm Ops

Project Lead: Dean Koyanagi, Nina Saeli

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Veterans often encounter unique obstacles when considering entering into farming. There are over 800,000 military veterans in New York State, but they exist in a dispersed population, varying from 3-15% of the total population of each county. Because they do not have a dominant presence in any one location, specialized resources are often lacking, ultimately presenting a high barrier to entering agricultural jobs and further marginalizing these veterans.

Agriculture is not directly supported by Veterans Affairs — veterans cannot use education funds for most farm training and often cannot use vocational training funds for farm-related occupations. In addition, many veterans have unique disabilities (e.g. amputations, PTSD) and training and resources need to include mechanisms to address these issues.

To enhance the resources and training available to military veterans interested in farming, Farm Ops collaborates with established Veteran and Farming groups to:

  • Create a statewide service provider network for organizations to support agriculture training for veterans
  • Implement multiple education strategies to engage and train military/ veterans who want to farm

News and Updates

Farm Ops Opens Next Round of Veteran Learning Cohort Workshops

By Kacey Deamer | April 1, 2021

Our Farm Ops project is continuing to find ways to support veterans interested in agriculture amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Recently the project expanded its offering of virtual workshops to…

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Farm Ops Offering Veteran Learning Cohort Workshops

By Kacey Deamer | February 15, 2021

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t stopped farmers from farming, nor has it stopped the work of our Farm Ops project to support veterans interested in agriculture. Last year we started…

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Farm Ops Trainings for Veterans Go Virtual for 2020

By Anna Birn | July 1, 2020

Through the COVID-19 pandemic, farming hasn’t stopped and neither has the work of our Farm Ops project. Due to current restrictions to in-person workshops, Farm Ops is offering virtual workshops…

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Dean came to the Small Farms Program in 2015 to work with fellow veterans interested in agriculture. He and his wife have been farming in Ithaca for the past 10 years, and he is excited to share the experience of learning to farm with others. Dean continues to support a statewide effort to work with extension, veteran’s organizations, and our veteran farming community to support veterans in achieving their agricultural goals.

Read Articles by Dean Koyanagi

About Nina Saeli

Nina joined the Small Farms Program in 2020 after five years of collaboration with the program as a beginning farmer.  As the newest addition to the FarmOps team, she works to support both current and future farmer-veteran programming efforts. Nina's transitioning from almost 20 years of military service into the civilian community, helps to inform the program of some of the physical, social and mention challenges veterans face. Nina's work aims to help transitioning veterans find solace in aspect of agriculture that supports that veterans health, self sustainability, community inclusion or other life goals.

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