With a 28-year career in the Army and many combat tours under his belt, Charley Jordan finds peace when he comes home to his cows.
The global war on terror delayed the military man’s farming dreams until 2009, when he finally bought a smtall herd of cattle and started Circle J Ranch in Woodlawn.
“When I first started out, I didn’t realize what farming was doing for me,” says Jordan, an Army aviator who plans to retire soon. “Every time I came home from being overseas or somewhere else, I would see my cows and farm. All of a sudden I got this calm feeling. It is very therapeutic.”
Every veteran has a story to tell, and Jordan says Homegrown by Heroes helps tell it.
The Homegrown by Heroes program is America’s official branding effort of the Farmer Veteran Coalition. In 2016, the Tennessee Department
of Agriculture’s Pick Tennessee Products marketing program partnered with the brand to bring its marketing potential and logo use to the state.
Military veterans and active- duty members who farm may apply to Homegrown by Heroes and use its accompanying patriotic logo
“Homegrown by Heroes is just a wonderful program that really gets out the word and story of veterans who have decided to make agriculture their life and their love,” Jordan says.
Making a Connection
Fellow Tennesseean and veteran Roger Nell grew up in a city, but he bought a Montgomery County farm when he came home from his deployment to Iraq. He served 26 years between active and reserve time in the Army before his retirement in 2013.
An attorney by day, Nell works with neighbor Tom Biggar to buy calves and raise them to sell as freezer beef under the label B&N Custom Beef. Nell recently joined Homegrown by Heroes to further brand his beef.
“From the producer standpoint, it’s always good to be able to tap into a market. There are a lot of people out there who are looking to support veterans,” Nell says. “From the consumer standpoint, I would like to think that if consumers knew nothing else about people with a military background, that they know they are going to get what they are expecting. They can trust the product.”
Nearby, about 20 miles from Fort Campbell, Jordan also sells freezer beef, as well as eggs and herbs, to consumers who like to know their food source. He says the Homegrown by Heroes logo at his farmstand spurs additional interest and support in his products.
Fitting the Farmer Mold
A born-and-raised Florida beach kid, Jordan learned to love agriculture when his military family transferred to South Dakota. Through the Army, Jordan gained the skills to face farming’s challenges.
“The military puts in us ‘not to quit.’ We have a lot of perseverance and traits that apply great to agriculture,” Jordan says. “I’ve experienced losing a cow and dealing with nasty floods and re-fencing the pasture. Instead of quitting, I persevered.”
Nell says the military teaches skills of organization, planning and problem solving, which apply to many situations in life, farming included. He also finds farm life healing, as Jordan explains.
“Farming is really something that brings me back to reality and calms my mind,” Jordan says. “This is what I want to do – have a peaceful existence on this planet. And I see how farming affects other veterans, too.”