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Helping veterans through farming

June 29, 2010 |  6:02 am

Wednesday marks the very first Southern California Food and Farming Veteran Career Fair in Santa Monica. It's hosted by the Farmer-Veteran Coalition, a nonprofit that was founded by American farmers to help veterans -- particularly young people who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan -- find work in agriculture.

The group says that more than 250,000 veterans of those two wars are out of work and that the unemployment rate for veterans between the ages of 18 to 24 reportedly hovers near 30%. At the same time, these farmers say that the nation has a critical need for new farmers who are versed in ecological matters and committed to producing a safe, healthful food supply.

The fair's goal is to introduce veterans to companies and organizations offering jobs in regional farming, produce distribution, urban farming, school garden projects, landscaping and culinary arts. On-site job counseling will also be provided as will food prepared and served by local chefs.

Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 1855 Main St., Santa Monica. (310) 458-8551. Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free for veterans and employers. www.farmvetco.org.

-- Jessica Gelt 

Photo: Ben Stansall. Credit: AFP / Getty Images