Prince George County veterans plan to fight food shortages at a new training center that promotes urban farming and healthy eating. A center is planned in Lanham to train aquaculture veterans so they can start their own businesses.
VFW Post 8950 wants to help veterans become entrepreneurs while improving their health. They are building an aquaculture training center to grow plants and fish to help with food insecurity and healthy eating.
King Smith, a Vietnam War veteran, is leading the project.
“Everyone eats, so we thought having an indoor farm in an urban food desert would be something that not only veterans could engage with, but the community as well,” he said.
Post-8950 veterans traveled to Virginia State University, which runs an aquaculture program, to learn about the fast-growing industry. They want to learn about keeping fish, shellfish and plants.
“It addresses the climate crisis we have,” Smith said. “It’s clean, 21st century technology.”
They have the greenhouse drawings and all the materials on site. The next steps include obtaining permits and breaking ground.
They have their first grant, but are asking for donations and help from the community.
They hope to help write grants and get ideas from people with aquaculture experience.
“Whether you’re talking about dehumidifiers, fans, fish tanks, etc.,” said Smith. “We are soliciting donations and things, so that’s what those funds are used for.”
John Spearmon, who heads Oasis Farm LLC, is a consultant on the project.
“In terms of neglect directed at veterans, it was too late,” he said. “This is an opportunity for veterans to help veterans.”
They want to train veterans in owning and running their own aquaculture business and use it as a model for other VFWs around the country.