FAIRMONT, W.Va. (WBOY) — Operation Welcome Home held a veterans agriculture training program workshop and farm tour at the Abel Farm in Pursglove on Tuesday.

The Abel family provided those in attendance an educational tour and a walk around their working farm. Approximately six years ago, the family started the farm by attending beekeeping school in Marion County, also attending master gardener classes, and joining the Monongalia County Farm Bureau.  

“And the process of farming is something where you are your own boss. So, if you are undermotivated it’ll be underproductive, if you’re highly motivated it’ll be highly productive. If you are willing to accept the fact that you’re plunging into uncharted territory,” said Rick Abel, a farmer. “I pushed a pencil and played with computers most of my career, so as a programmer I did events, but I didn’t farm but I was always around it.”

In May, a collaboration between West Virginia University Extension Service and Operation Welcome Home provided an opportunity for attendees to learn about high tunnel irrigation as well as crop planting. 

“So, there are many things that, you know, farming can do for veterans. For one, if they want to go into a business that is a very, very great opportunity for people to provide revenue for their families, but it is also therapy,” said Tiffany Summerlin, Executive Director at Operation Welcome Home. “It’s actually called agri-therapy, so that act of planting something and nurturing it and seeing it come to fruition is something that is very, very awesome to do as an individual. And I think it can really help people to deal with some mental health obstacles in their way, this is a great way to kind of get them over those humps.”

Officials from Operation Welcome Home use agriculture to bring people together with an interest in agriculture either as a hobby or those interested in making farming into a business.