When Shawna and Brian Truitt started their farm in Sudlersville, Maryland, they were curious about programs that would help veteran families like theirs.
That’s when they discovered the Farmer Veteran Coalition and the Homegrown by Heroes program, a voluntary marketing label available to farmer veterans.
Starting a conversation
Brian served in the United States military, starting in the Army and concluding his 21 years of service with the Maryland National Guard. The couple now owns and operates two agricultural businesses: Patriot Acres Alpaca and Patriot Acres Farm Brewery on land that has been in Brian’s family for more than 100 years.
The Homegrown by Heroes label has helped Shawna and Brian market their agricultural products. According to Shawna, the label acts as a catalyst for conversation with her customers, providing an opportunity to share her story and educate her others. “Anytime you can generate a conversation where you can teach somebody something or you can educate them on where their food comes from, that’s a great opportunity,” Shawna said.
Starting from scratch
By the time they returned to Brian’s family farm, the land had been out of operation for years. Shawna and Brian were, in many ways, starting from scratch and needed to invest in infrastructure and equipment before they could get the farm up and running.
Starting a new relationship
Unsure what to do and where to turn, Brian’s uncle, a fellow farmer and a Farm Credit customer, advised them to call MidAtlantic Farm Credit and … “We’ve had a relationship ever since!” Brian said. “Whenever we need anything, we first ask ourselves, ‘do we really need this?’ and then, after we’ve made that determination, we reach out to Sharon at Farm Credit and she makes sure we get what we need.”
Farm Credit is dedicated to meeting farmers where they are and collaborating with them to meet their needs. Shawna and Brian have experienced this from day one. “Farm Credit really works with you. They’re able to look at the big picture,” said Shawna.