Hesperus farm helps disabled combat veterans by teaching them organic farming

[anvplayer video=”5128839″ station=”998122″]

HESPERUS, C.O. – The owners of Breen Mesa Farms in Hesperus has been helping disabled combat veterans in the Four Corners, with their Veterans Homestead Project, where they teach veterans how to operate a farm. But it’s not your traditional kind of farming, they practice a new approach called Regenerative Agriculture, where every decision made on the farm is done to improve the soil.

Gregory Hopkins, started the Veteran Homestead Project seven years ago, he says this approach to farming helps improve veterans’ mental health. 

“Teaching them how to build soil and bring a positive energy life force, versus the destruction that is often times felt by guys that have gone to combat,” said Hopkins. 

Hopkins, spent 12 years in the Air Force, serving as a Special Operations Pararescuemen, and when he got out, he noticed there was something healing about getting your hands dirty. 

“There has been some studies showing that organic soil microbes take a really good chunk of depression away,” Hopkins said. 

So, he’s been teaching fellow disabled combat veterans how to operate a farm. 

“The unique thing about having a farm, agricultural teaching for veterans is that we actually have a skill set that isn’t just a week-long hunting trip or rafting trip or whatever, this is a skill set that gives them a reason to want to wake up every day,” said Hopkins. 

Whether it’s learning how to compost, make goat cheese, or even cook your first meal.

“We actually taught some veterans who never did anything more than made a sandwich, so butchering a chicken to roasting that chicken and presenting a dinner to us,” Hopkins said.

He says it’s conquering the little things that make the biggest difference.

“It’s really refreshing to watch guys come through, who get stuck in sort of cycle of depression and withdraw from society and when they find themselves with these small skills or small tasks to be able to do really brings out a whole different way of looking at the world,” said Hopkins. 

Over the years, the Veterans Homestead Project has taught these skills to up to 300 veterans, some coming as far away as Oregon and Pennsylvania.