Nature and nurture: Nova Scotia farm project fights insecurities among veterans
SWEETS CORNER, N.S. -- A farm in rural Nova Scotia, owned by two retired military veterans, aims to help support fellow service members through a host of horticultural programs.
Married couple Jessica Miller and Steve Murgatroyd started the Veteran Farm Project in 2018 as a way to keep themselves busy after retiring from the armed forces.
"This farm came up for sale. We came, and even though it was in ruins almost, we fell in love with it," says Miller.
That summer, Miller started growing vegetables. She heard through a friend that a senior couple, who are also veterans, were having food insecurity issues and asked for some of the extra produce.
"That's how the seed was formed, the idea of I can grow, and I can donate, this is great," says Miller.
The Veteran Farm Project seeks to be a safe, enriching, nurturing space, for veterans, mainly women, who are transitioning from the forces and have suffered indignities in service, says Miller.
The first year the project supported 10 families with food insecurities, growing to 40 families in 2020 and now 121 this year.
Murgatroyd says the project is a team effort, as Miller does the growing and he does the building.
"She tells me she needs beds built, I build beds. She tells me she needs a hoop house, I put up a hoop house," says Murgatroyd.
Murgatroyd also runs archery workshops on site. In 2017, the couple competed in the Invictus Games.
Miller says she's overwhelmed by the support the project continues to receive.
"The outpouring of love and generosity has been incredible. The community here has supported us now most of our Saturdays with our farm stand and our plant sale. All of those revenues that we generate go directly back into the project to keep it running," Miller says.
"It’s a never-ending project, which has completely fulfilled me. Going from being a medic and helping my fellow soldiers, I am now still feeling (like I'm)… helping my community."