Patriot Guardens is an integrated agriculture and economic diversification initiative of Joint Base West Virginia that is aligning and mobilizing strategic efforts in order to provide new economic and employment opportunities. The initiative involves partnerships with West Virginia State University (WVSU) Extension Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Appalachian Small Fruit Research Station at Kearneysville, NRCS, West Virginia University, Marshall University, Shepherd University and landowners and coal operators across the state.
The statewide initiative pools resources and creates an agriculture-centric system to assist West Virginians, particularly but not limited to veterans and military personnel, in:
- Providing agricultural education and training opportunities to veterans, Guardsmen/women and all West Virginians
- Developing agriculture entrepreneurs, businesses and value-added companies
- Supporting veterans with PTSD and substance abuse, while transitioning West Virginians recovering from substance abuse back into workplace opportunities
- Collaborating with other private and nonprofit agriculture development groups
Patriot Guardens is working to provide new training opportunities for veterans and men and women of the W.Va. National Guard, help grow local food production and enhance domestic food security. Patriot Guardens is focusing its efforts on four pillars:
Facilitate veteran and guardsmen agri-preneur development activities
Establishment of AGRIPARKS anchored by apple orchards
Reuse of WVNG armories for agriculture processing and training/transition
Develop more sustainable small farmers and specialty products farming
The WVNG’s Heritage Agriculture & Rural Veterans Entrepreneurship and Sustainability Transition (HARVEST) Project provides training in small farm management, production of specialty products and creation of agri-businesses and the development of self-sustaining small farms that produce high-quality, high-value agricultural products for the West Virginia market and beyond.
To date, Patriot Guardens and our partners have secured more than $10 million to help fund its projects -- develop large-scale apple orchard projects in key locations across the Mountain State, retrofit and convert armories into agriculture transition centers and provide agriculture training to veterans and military personnel.