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Operation Grow helps veterans start farms in Alabama

Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 12:34 PM EDT
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ALABAMA (WTVM) - If you’ve served in the military and are maybe at a crossroad trying to decide what to do next - there’s a targeted program statewide that helps veterans plant seeds for a new career.

“There are three main components of Operation Grow, which is training, networking and sustainable support,” said Harli Willis, Operation Grow Coordinator.

Harli Willis is passionate about her work - it has strong purpose at every angle. She’s the coordinator for an Alabama Extension project called “Operation Grow”.

The extension offices in all 67 Alabama counties serve to help farmers - and now they’re helping to even grow the growers... Giving those who served in the military a prime opportunity to advance their personal next chapter.

“Operation Grow comes from our umbrella program, beginning farmer program,” said Willis. “What we do is we take all the resources that we’ve spent years developing for the beginning farmer program and giving them specifically geared towards veterans.”

Operation Grow goes much deeper than what meets the surface - the program looks to touch roots for what many veterans battle *after* their service.

“Our main emphasis is on employment and mental health,” said Willis. “With that employment we are trying to get them to have their own, financially secure farm that they are proud of fo their primary job. We’re not only helping financially which is already hard to find, but their mental health as well through working out in the soil... Working on the land.”

If you’re interested, there’s absolutely no charge for the services provided by Alabama Extension.

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