Truman VA, Urban Agriculture Center Creates Veteran Farm Program

November 07, 2019

New project to benefit Veterans, enhance community health

COLUMBIA, Mo. ― Leadership from Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital and the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture (CCUA) will announce the formation of a new Veteran urban farm program during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. The event will take place at the CCUA Urban Farm, located at 1209 Smith St. The collaborative three-year pilot project will lead to the formation of the Mark and Carol Stevenson Veterans Urban Farm.

“Mark and Carol are the landowners of this 1.3-acre urban farm site, as well as six other community gardens throughout Columbia,” said Billy Polansky, executive director of the CCUA. “Our center has been operating this site as our headquarters since 2010. As we transition our base of operations to Columbia’s Agriculture Park this coming spring, we are excited to continue the Urban Farm’s legacy by partnering with Truman VA. The farm will continue with a new target audience ― our country’s Veterans. It will provide them with a vibrant space to learn about food, improve health and build community.”

Beginning in the spring of 2020, the two organizations will transition the Urban Farm into a new community space for mid-Missouri Veterans. The space will host programs that serve Veterans from Truman VA and central Missouri. The new program is part of the CCUA’s strategic plan, which calls for partnerships that enhance community health through agriculture.

“Our mission is to honor our Veterans by providing state-of-the-art care that improves their health and wellbeing,” said Patricia Hall, PhD, FACHE, medical center director of Truman VA. “Community partnerships such as this are vital to our success. Truman VA isn’t just a Veterans hospital that happens to be in Columbia. We are part of this community, and we are very pleased and excited that the CCUA and the Stevenson’s chose us to be stewards of this wonderful space.”

“We love the work that the CCUA does in our community,” said Mark Stevenson, landowner of the CCUA’s Urban Farm. “Carol and I couldn’t be more excited about this new partnership with Truman VA. I feel that it really will enhance the lives of our Veterans and improve their mental and physical health.”

This coming spring, local Veterans will operate the ready-made space to host a variety of health-focused, therapeutic programs. The various programs offered on-site will assist to improve job skills, as well as promote healthy lifestyle habits and community building.

The Mark and Carol Stevenson Veterans Urban Farm pilot project will allow Truman VA to provide Veteran services at an off-site, outdoor location. The less formal space will offer a different atmosphere for VA programming, and a place for volunteering, socializing and gatherings. Because the space is a working farm, the abundance of fresh, healthy food will further contribute to the wellbeing of the Veterans it serves.

Funding for the three-year project will come from the VA, Veterans United Foundation and MFA Oil. Additional funding proposals are pending in order to fully-fund the project for the pilot period.