WASHINGTON – A hydroponic garden that employs veterans may open in D.C. next year.
“Our hope is to be able to have a facility open in Boston, San Antonio and San Bernadino this year, and then be able to come to Washington, along with about nine other cities, next year,” says Dylan Ratigan, a former CNBC and MSNBC host.
Ratigan, who is a partner in Archi’s Acres, a small-scale organic farm, stopped by the WTOP studios Thursday before heading to the White House where he and a group of veterans will help plant a vegetable garden with fifth-graders.
White House advisers will be briefed on how veterans are currently being trained to be certified hydroponic, organic farmers.
The vets who will run the Archi’s Acres greenhouse gardens around the country are being trained through the Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training Academy with private funding from the nonprofit Veterans for Valor Fund, which offers veterans help with tuition, business grants and startup loans.
Veterans in the program undergo six weeks of training that costs about $4,500. They will learn how to run a business while also learning the basics of greenhouse production and farm ownership management.
The food raised in the gardens will be sold through Whole Foods.
Ratigan says the larger goal is for veterans to help solve the nation’s problems by matching them with business leaders.
The aim, he says, is community problem-solving.
“Think about what are the core needs in your community today, and what you can do to collaborate with local business leaders in your community today to coordinate with local veteran communities,” he says.
He envisions veterans helping with other issues, everything from energy to health to the nation’s infrastructure.