Wounded Warrior Project Partner Fights Veteran Hunger with Homegrown Solutions
Veterans are often accustomed to fighting battles, but one battle they shouldn’t have to fight is the battle against hunger. However, many veterans are dealing with this issue on a daily basis.
Helping veterans win that battle is Fields 4 Valor Farms, a community partner and friend of Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP).
U.S. Army veteran Peter Scott, who is also a WWP warrior, founded Fields 4 Valor Farms to help and heal fellow veterans through farming and agriculture. As a veteran-owned-and-operated nonprofit, Fields 4 Valor aims to end veteran hunger by growing and delivering fresh produce, eggs, and honey to veteran families in the Washington, DC, area. It also houses and employs veterans and offers a paid internship program for those who want to start their own farm business.
Peter runs the farm with other veterans and military family members, using sustainable farming practices and creating a supportive community.
Another Way to Serve
Peter served as a counterintelligence agent in the U.S. Army from 1999-2010. After leaving the military in 2010, he went to culinary school and worked as a cheesemaker, brewer, and butcher. He started keeping bees and gardening. Peter had a natural inclination to grow and tend to things.
However, he was also dealing with untreated post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which was negatively impacting his life. He spent six months at a VA inpatient treatment center for veterans with combat PTSD. When he returned home, he worked as a stay-at-home dad, trying to figure out what he wanted to do next. He continued gardening and volunteered to help tend a community garden plot at the Old Soldiers’ Home in Washington, DC.
At one point, the community garden had grown extra vegetables, so Peter took them to the chaplain’s office at a nearby VA hospital to see if anyone could use them. In five minutes, everything was gone.
“It felt really awesome to be giving back,” Peter said. “And one of the things I learned during that time was I needed to connect with the veteran community.”
Feeding Veteran Families – and the Soul
Peter had an idea of what he wanted to do, but running a farm is a lot more than just growing crops. He connected with another WWP community partner, Dog Tag Inc., and went through the Dog Tag Fellowship Program, an intensive, five-month program to help veterans build a strong entrepreneurial foundation through educational partnerships with Georgetown University and Loyola University. As a founding partner, WWP has supported this program since 2015 and has helped expand it to new markets to reach more warriors, like Peter, and their family members throughout the years.
Through his education from the Dog Tag program and the need to feel like he was serving a purpose in the veteran community, Fields 4 Valor Farms was born.
Peter officially started the farm in 2016 in a backyard in Hyattsville, Maryland. As the nonprofit grew, Fields 4 Valor eventually leased a 7-acre property in Brandywine, Maryland, near Andrews Air Force Base.
In 2018, Fields 4 Valor delivered about 350 pounds of food. In 2021 as the organization grew and the need grew because of the pandemic, it delivered around 5,500 pounds of food. The nonprofit works with other veterans service organizations like WWP and Operation Homefront to identify veterans in the community who are in need of food.
Deliveries are done by volunteers, and Peter said he’s often amazed by the amount of support the farm gets from within the veteran and military community.
“It gets hard, but when I stop and think about it, I always think we have really amazing people and connections,” Peter said. “Everybody is putting in what they can just to help other people. We have folks who find meaning and purpose in that.”
In addition to growing and providing fresh food to veteran families, Fields 4 Valor also runs a veteran apprenticeship program. This program helps them learn how to be the owner/operator of a farm. They leave with skills in how to package and keep food fresh.
“Growing [food] is so purposeful for me, and getting my hands in the dirt is my Zen place,” Peter said. “It's what makes me feel good and whole and keeps me grounded.”
A Growing Need
Wounded Warrior Project’s vision is to foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation’s history. WWP’s free programs and services have evolved over the past 20 years to meet the changing needs of the nation’s post-9/11 wounded warriors and their families.
WWP’s community partners augment the organization’s programs and services and deepen its impact on warriors, families, and caregivers. This collaborative network is key to building strong veteran families and communities.
Knowing what warriors are struggling with and what is needed to help them is key to improving their lives. WWP’s 2022 Annual Warrior Survey shows that warriors are struggling financially, making food assistance provided by organizations like Fields 4 Valor even more valuable.
“We had an increase in demand and interest from the community with very minimal outreach this year,” Peter said. “The need is there, and the need is real.”
According to the survey, more than 6 in 10 WWP warriors (64.2%) said they couldn't make ends meet at some point in the past 12 months. The majority of those (81.8%) cited the soaring cost of goods as the top cause of financial strain.
Rates of low and very low food security among WWP warriors have also grown since 2021. Nearly 2 in 5 warriors met the threshold for being food insecure (38.7%), which is almost four times higher than the U.S. general population (10.2%).
Peter hopes the services his farm provides to veterans make life a little easier for veteran families in his community struggling with food and financial security.
“One of the themes I'm hearing is that people are just so moved by having somebody put all this work in to give them [fresh food],” Peter said. “And it’s other veterans and military folks and spouses who are growing it and giving it to them because they deserve it, and they've earned it.”
Since 2012, WWP has invested more than $343 million in 213 organizations that help wounded veterans and families nationwide. Together, WWP and its community partners connect warriors and their loved ones with the resources they need to improve their quality of life.
Contact: — Paris Moulden, Public Relations, firstname.lastname@example.org, 904.570.7910
About Wounded Warrior Project
Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers — helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more.