Welcome, Vet Veggies!
The Upstart Farmers are a group of innovative farmers using ZipGrow technology on their farm. We get excited every time a new farmer joins the table, because each and every one of them bring unique ideas and passions with their businesses. This week, we're happy to welcome Farmer Jerry Martin with his veteran run farm, Vet Veggies.
Jerry and co-owner Darryl Hill bring passions for empowering veterans to leave their cubicles and start farming.
What's truly unique are the values that Jerry and Darryl have embedded in their business model. Growing with in the Foothills of the Ozark Mountains just outside of Springdale, Arkansas, Jerry Martin is starting a brand that he hopes will "help people to help themselves."
How it all started
Jerry discovered container farming through a CNN article. Jerry's natural curiosity compelled him to call for more information, and he became intrigued with this type of farming and its potential. Mr. Martin did some research of his own on hydroponic farming. He began to uncover a growing technique with the ability to carry a new generation of farmer, current food issues and all, into the future of food.
Jerry began to view hydroponics in the light of two desires: starting a business and spending time in an environment not reminiscent of a cubicle. He saw a great opportunity to accomplish both of those desires at once. He knew that purchasing a farm would give him and his family the means to grasp that opportunity.
As an experienced businessman and a Vietnam veteran, Jerry knew that farmers usually need a marketing advantage to sell their produce. He felt that folks would prefer to buy from veterans and decided to build a brand around this group of people. Jerry created a brand that all veteran hydroponic farmers were invited to use, thereby supporting his passion to help fellow vets.
With these ambitions in mind (starting a business, getting away from the cubicle, and supporting veterans), Jerry christened his farm with the name Vet Veggies, the U.S.'s own veteran-run hydroponic farming brand.
"Any veteran who decided that they wanted to raise vegetable hydroponically, I would allow [those veterans] to use this brand of Vet Veggies free of charge to them. And as more of us do it, then maybe the brand would get noticed and it would be easier to market the vegetables," says Jerry.
So what does the start of Vet Veggies look like?
The first step is getting the Vet Veggies name out there: producing and selling to his markets.
Jerry is looking to sell fresh lettuce to schools in the area and possibly even build some educational vertical gardens. He would love to find other ways to serve veterans in his area, such as serving fresh produce to veteran-specific markets. So far, Vet Veggies' mission has been welcomed with eagerness.
"We've been invited to speak at the local Rotary Club on Hydroponics; also by USDA to speak to recent Veterans on the Hydroponic Concept."
Jerry plans on growing his operation to several farms in the future and building a family business of the farm with his son-in-law and business partner, Darryl Hill.
We look forward to seeing how Jerry brings his helpful and innovative spirit to this new age of agriculture.