After deployments as logisticians in Iraq and Afghanistan, Ben and Leticia Ward retired from the U.S. Army and applied their military training and experiences to their agricultural aspirations and created the Little Roman Farm, a small-scale intensive urban farm located within the city of Fountain, CO.
The pair adopted organic growing practices they learned during their overseas tours and took it further, eschewing all pesticides and artificial fertilizers in favor of sustainable, healthy, and nature-friendly techniques.
Ranging from work ethic to an ability to navigate bureaucracies, the pair leverage their Army background to the farm’s benefit and vice-versa, the farming benefits them as Army Reservists, proving that swords and plowshares needn’t be mutually exclusive.
The couple’s farm of hoop houses, small sheds and livestock are built on a foundation of decommissioned military gear, found materials and old barns. A stack of sturdy fiberglass bins next to a greenhouse seem benign, ready to be put to use as brooding bins for chickens or an aquaponics system to grow veggies and fish at the same time. The bins once housed Joint Direct Attack Munition, or part of a system that controls “smart bombs.”
Many veterans making the tough transition home find a new sense of purpose in the field, tending to vegetables or livestock. Like the Wards, many try farming after spending years in war zones. They’re aided by groups like the Farmer Veteran Coalition, and a few government programs created in the last Farm Bill targeted at getting beginning veteran farmers up and running.
Little Roman Farm: From Swords to Plowshares: A veteran’s sustainable farm