ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY (WDBJ7) Alison Martin, Executive Director of the The Livestock Conservancy stands before a gathered group, a slide showing a range of farm animals behind her.
“These are rare breeds of livestock and poultry that used to be very common on our farms," Martin says. "But are no longer that common anymore.”
Because modern, large-scale farming has left them behind.
“So our heritage breeds, the endangered breeds, are the ones that didn’t fit the mold, that didn’t fit in with that type of production system," Martin said.
Martin is an evangelist for these now rare farm breeds, and her organization has found the perfect steward for them: veterans.
“Veterans like to come from – they’re coming from a background with a mission and a purpose, something that they’re protecting and serving," Erica Govednik, a farmer and veteran, said. "And these heritage breeds really need that. So, pairing the two together, you get a really great combination.”
Joey Walker, a Marine vet, came all the way from Tennessee.
“You have a goal and a mission of helping these animals coming off these endangered list." Walker said. "And bringing awareness to our country of their plight.”
So in seminars and demonstrations this weekend, they’re showing veterans how they can move into small farming, finding both a lifestyle and a purpose in helping preserve endangered breeds.
“It’s a joy," Martin said. "This is one that’s very close to my heart. Seeing the veterans, how much it means to them, and what they’ve been able to do to it, and how farming has turned their lives around.”