• Nicole DeFelice

2019 Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund

Updated: Dec 12, 2019

Du ring my daily cleanup of our email inbox last night I stumbled across an unread email with the subject line: 2019 Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund Notification Letter. My heart immediately started racing. A little back story first.

Our homestead joined the Farmer Veteran Coalition a few years back when we first decided to turn our “hobby” into a business. They offered an incredible amount of resources to Farmer Veterans and the organization was comprised of a thoughtful community of like-minded folks. We attended webinars and read articles from them that helped streamline our business and later were accepted to the Homegrown by Heroes label, which is the official Farmer Veteran branding plan in America to advertise that products were produced by U.S. military Veterans. It has done wonders for our marketing.

Each year the Farmer Veteran Coalition hosts the Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund, which

is a small grant program that offers direct assistance to Veterans in the early years of farming. Since 2011 the Fellowship Fund has awarded over $1.9 million to Veterans through supporters like Kubota, Tractor Supply Co., and Newmans Own Foundation.

The partnership of all these organizations has been aiding Farmer Veterans in reaching their business goals and growing their farms and ranches through grants in the amount of $1,000 to $5,000 each year for the purchase of equipment or supplies to bring them closer to achieving their business goals.

When I first heard about this opportunity I knew we had to try! It was this grant application process that inspired us to sit down and write a thorough business plan for our homestead in 2018. That plan gave direction and vision to our future in ways we never expected and although we weren’t awarded the grant in 2018 we walked away better for it because of the time spent crunching numbers, clarifying our products, and making a 5 year plan. The 2019 application opened up in February and I thought, “Why not try again!”

I again visited our business plan and made so many revisions it was like a totally new document! It’s amazing what a years worth of experience can teach you and I was happy to make changes to our model that better captured our work and the outcome of our efforts...now fast forward to that email! Subject line: 2019 Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund Notification Letter.

My heart was racing with anticipation. With hope. To be able to get a leg up on achieving our homestead goals ahead of our own forecast would be amazing and yet part of me had already accepted that we hadn’t been awarded the grant. We weren’t chosen last year and I was fully prepared to accept that again. I think it was the survivor part of me that believes you can’t get something for nothing. Everything we have we’ve busted our humps for and I’m extremely proud of that fact. But that little farm girl inside me said, “Dare to dream....” so I clicked on that email.



I couldn’t breathe. I could hardly even read the rest of the words! Was this real??? Of the 354 applicants had WE truly been selected to receive an award???

I ran down to the basement where Sam was working on his homemade wine and read the email out loud to him. He just stared at me. His reaction was the same as mine, sheer disbelief.

It is with great pride pride and very humble hearts that we are today able to share that we are in fact recipients of the 2019 Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund! The generous award will enable us to add a sugar shack to our maple syrup operation to streamline the boiling process in the cold winter months! No more boiling sap on the deck under a tent at the mercy of the snow, sleet, wind and rain. No more inefficient use of propane because the sugar shack will enable us to house the wood fired evaporator we have been drooling over for the past few years.

We are now looking ahead to the 2020 sugaring season and can’t wait to throw open the doors of our sugar shack to welcome you all to learn about the process with us and take another step closer to your food! Thank you to the Farmer Veteran Coalition and all the supporters of the Fellowship Fund for making this dream a reality for our family.

Stay tuned through the selection process as we determine what vendor we will work with to begin our sugar shack build over the summer.

~ Nicole


True North Homestead

29 Campville Hill Rd.

Harwinton, CT 06791



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