With one third of American farmers over the age of 60, there is a critical shortage of individuals entering the agriculture industry. At the same time, we have record numbers of veteran unemployment, PTSD, suicide, and other challenges that naturally follow almost two decades of sustained war.
Project Victory Gardens is an agritherapy, animal therapy, and agriculture education program designed to Cultivate Resiliency among our Nation's veterans. Through exposure to farming techniques, artisan homesteading classes, and participation in resiliency exercises, Victory Gardeners will experience a reawakening of the drive and sense of purpose that they had in the military.
Established by Matthew and Kara Rutter, Project Victory Gardens is a veteran operated non-profit* program in Aiken, South Carolina. Matt and Kara served a cumulative 45 years in the U.S. Army, culminating at Command Sergeant Major and Sergeant Major, respectively. Matt and Kara are both qualified Master Resiliency Training instructors who use their resiliency skills every day. While some of those resiliency skills are built through formal programs, it often comes in the mundane tasks around the farm: feeding chickens, milking goats, or pulling weeds in the garden. Project Victory Gardens is set on twenty beautiful acres with a 3-acre pond. Surrounding the pond is a Zen trail where one cannot help but gain balance and perspective.
The Rutters are active members of the military and veteran community, as well as the Aiken community. Matt is the Founding President and Kara is the Communications Director of the Farmer Veteran Coalition of South Carolina. Kara established the Third Army Association in Sumter, SC and Matt served as the Treasurer of the Military Intelligence Corps Association, Master’s Chapter. Matt is pursuing a Master's of Agricultural Education. After a combined 20 moves and decades spent overseas and in combat zones, they never take for granted a morning when they wake up on their farm.
*Project Victory Gardens is a registered Charity in the State of South Carolina. They are currently pursuing IRS 501(c)3 status.