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Veterans Helping Veterans

Veteran Helping VeteransNested among the verdant rolling hills of Russell and Chambers counties, are “Quiet Oak” and “Veterans Funny Farm LLC” owned and operated by Veteran Nimrod Stephens (Army) and Veteran Jeffery Whaley (Air Force) respectively.   They acquired their Tunnel Houses under the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

It has been more than a year since Stephens acquired his three tunnel houses and he has already had a very successful season growing okra and a number of other vegetables.  Currently, he is transitioning from collards to early potatoes, bush snap beans, tomatoes, and peppers.  Because of tunnel houses, he was able to capture the early okra market around Phenix City and Columbus areas last year.

Veteran Jeffery Whaley of Cusseta, AL acquired his tunnel houses approximately six months ago and in late fall he planted collards, turnips, and kale.  Although he grew up in a farm family and farming community, this was his first venture in producing fresh vegetables for the market using tunnel houses.   As he later confessed his winter crop of Collards, Turnips, and Kale grew beyond his expectations, and this presented a problem of how to best market them.   This was further compounded by the fact that Whaley had some medical issues which restricted his movements, and his ability to adequately harvest and market his harvest.   Because of his earlier success in marketing his crops from his EQIP tunnel houses, a telephone call was placed to Stephens in nearby Russell County, by Mr. J. Currington who assisted both Veterans.  

After the introductions were made both veterans got down to business.  It so happened that there was a high demand for Kale in the Phenix City/Columbus area because Stephens had sold out earlier in the season and his customers were calling for more. The duo soon reached an agreement on price and quantity, and thus formed one of the earliest networks among veterans for the sale and distribution of fresh tunnel house produce.

Both veterans are highly pleased with their EQIP /Wiregrass Resource Conservation and Development Council tunnel houses. Assistance in construction and planting of their tunnel houses was provided to them by Victor A. Khan, James Currington, and Edward Sparks, who spent many hours coaching and assisting these veterans to be successful.

(Submitted by James Currington, Wiregrass RC&D Council)