Boots to Bushels new farmer training for New England: veterans invited to join

KINGSTON, R.I. – May 20, 2024 – The University of Rhode Island’s Cooperative Extension is offering a new program this year, connecting New England military veterans and beginning farmers with opportunities in agriculture. Registration is now taking place.

The initiative is offering two programs, a summer workshop series which will host trainings at the new two-acre Boots to Bushels Market Garden at the URI Kingston campus and provide hands-on learning opportunities. The winter portion offers online classes and farm tours that focus on building a sustainable farm business and connecting learners with agricultural resources for sustainable farming practices. The programs are supported by funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

According to Tricia Lourenco Boucher, Boots to Bushels (B2B) program director, the program began as a way to connect veterans with careers in agriculture; along the way, has expanded to include beginning farmers and traditionally underserved populations. 

The Boots to Bushels program aims to support veterans, active military personnel, socially disadvantaged farmers, and beginning farmers in agricultural pursuits. Those in the current B2B cohort recently toured Roots Farm in Tiverton, learning about different season extension techniques.

The program launched in February. Current trainees say that they appreciate the support and information, whether they are just transitioning out of the military or are current farm employees hoping to learn more about the industry.

“There are so many resources and tools available for beginning farmers but they need to know where to look and what questions to ask,” Boucher says. “This program helps to make those connections and provide practice in the many skills needed to be successful in farming. From conceptualization through today, everyone has been so supportive of B2B and I think it’s because it makes sense, both for veterans to continue to serve their country through land stewardship and through providing food to their communities. I’m excited about the potential of Boots to Bushels to have a lasting impact on veterans, beginning farmers and our food system.”

Boots to Bushels Summer Workshop Series

Who: Beginning farmers, military veterans, and individuals interested in pursuing a career in agriculture

What: Hands-on learning at the URI Agronomy Farm with workshops covering various risk management topics. Topics include methods to mitigate climate change, sustainable pest and disease management, cover crops, and more

When: Most Wednesdays, from 9 to 11 a.m. See full schedule here.

Cost: Each workshop is $10.00.

Registration: Interested individuals can register and learn more by visiting here.

Boots to Bushels Online Classes – Market Garden Training for New England

Who: Veterans, service members, and beginning farmers.

What: Educational training covering fruit and vegetable production, business development, finances, marketing, and stress management.

Benefits: Participants will also have the opportunity to make connections with local, regional, and national resources.

Learn more: Registration for the online training will open in the fall. For more information or to get updates on future training sessions, email

“I think Boots to Bushels is a great effort and am glad it’s being offered,” says Bob Flynn, director of URI’s Center for Military and Veteran Education. “It’s an excellent match to the skills and desires of many veterans; I’m looking forward to seeing how this program continues to progress.”

URI’s Cooperative Extension provides informal education and learning opportunities to people across Rhode Island, farmers and residents of rural communities as well as cities. Cooperative Extension strives to reach every corner of Rhode Island, providing science-based information through educational programs and services for people to apply to their everyday lives.