Get ready for a very special Veteran’s Day Celebration this year. On Thursday evening, November 10th, The Doylestown Food Market, along with Delaware Valley University and Rodale Institute, present the documentary, "Ground Operations: Battlefields to Farmfields."
We are thrilled to announce an amazing panel to follow the film. Filmmaker-director Dulanie Ellis is coming in from California to be with us. Nathan Hershberger and Jim Wertman, two local veterans turned farmers, both graduates of the Organic Farming Certification Program at DelVal, complete the panel.
The event will be held at DelVal's Life Sciences Building. Doors open at 6:30 with a special display and vendor tables. Tickets are $10 for the public and $8 for Doylestown Food Market members. There is no charge for veterans, DelVal faculty, staff, and students.
Meet Our Local Veteran Farmers
Sarge’s Gourmet Sauces will at the screening. Created by Kevin Roberts, a military veteran turned local producer, Sarge’s complete line of all natural internationally flavored sauces will be available to sample and purchase. The co-op carries Sarge’s Original Sauce, but all the sauces are available for purchase at his website, sarges-gourmet.myshopify.com.
I caught up with Kevin recently to ask him a few questions including why and how he started the business. Part of his answer is that cooking has been a longstanding passion of his and he’s inspired by good, wholesome food. “Growing up with grandparents from farms in Ohio and Michigan, we always had well balanced meals with all natural ingredients.”
Those formative years set the tone for his current business success. “Making sure my sauces are not just delicious but wholesome with all natural ingredients that you can pronounce is important to me. My unofficial slogan is, ‘I work hard so you don’t have to.’ One little sauce can change a meal completely. The sauces are good tasting, good for you, nice, easy and convenient – just open the jar and that’s all you need to do.”
Things fell into place after his return from active duty. Robert had completed two major tours – one in Iraq and Afghanistan – before being medically discharged in April 2012. “I had suffered a traumatic head injury in Afghanistan. Constant headaches and chronic migraines let me know I had to go into business for myself. Cooking was always my way to relax; it was my therapy. Once I decided this was what I was going to do, the experimentation process with the sauces, and being in the kitchen, going back and forth with friends and family for tastings is what I focused on. It helped me incredibly and so I can understand where the farmers are coming from that are highlighted in the documentary.”
Make sure you stop by Kevin’s table, say hello to him, and sample his sauces.
I also had the opportunity to chat with Jim Wertman of ARO Hill Farm in preparation for the film. Like Kevin, this is Jim’s first official year in business, farming and selling his certified organic produce to CSA families and the Doylestown Food Market.
Jim has watched “Ground Operations…” and describes it as an accurate depiction of how farming can be transformative for a veteran, especially those affected by post traumatic stress disorder. “You do all this time in the military; it’s your life; you’re full in; you don’t have another option; it’s 24/7. The slow down of not occupying your brain as much as you were used to, along with the things you had to do and see, is part of the problem. It’s a different pace.”
After 21 years in the Navy, Jim decided to retire and, with the help of the GI Bill, earned his Master’s in Business Administration with a specialty in Sports Management from Delaware Valley University. He then and attended and graduated from their Organic Farming Certification Program. During this time, Jim purchased and rehabbed a 13-acre property in Jamison that became ARO Hill Farm.
Jim discovered he liked working as a farmer and being his own boss. “I like working hard. And I take my time. I also make sure I spend a lot of time with my son. I appreciate having the ability to walk away from the farm for two hours and go to his lacrosse games anytime I want.”
What else does veteran turned farmer Jim Wertman value? “I value my family number one; that’s why I make all the sacrifices and why I work as hard as I do, And I want to raise a good child. I take a lot of ownership in that. I value hard work. I value doing the right thing and sending the right message. Not everyone wants to take that route; I have standards and I keep them.” Learn more about ARO Hill Farm at their Facebook page.
You will have the opportunity to meet and talk with Kevin, Jim, Nathan and others at the event which is open to the public and pre-registration is not required. There is no charge for veterans, DelVal faculty, staff, and students. Tickets are $10 for the public and $8 for Doylestown Food Market members.
To learn more about the documentary and watch the trailer, please visit: http://groundoperations.net.