My name is Joel, and I am the owner and operator of Charlie Foxtrot Farm. I served as a 68W Combat Medic from 2007-2011, with a year long deployment to Eastern Afghanistan in 2009-2010. Upon returning home, I really struggled with the transition from military to civilian life. I was a platoon medic and was responsible for bringing my guys back home to their families. This was the single hardest job I ever had. We formed bonds as brothers in arms that no one can really understand, so when I got out I felt lost, and my sense of purpose null and void. I decided to pursue a degree in Outdoor Recreation, focusing on the therapeutic benefits of Nature Therapy for Veterans with PTSD. In 2015 I visited a farm in Lynden WA called Growing Veterans. Growing Veterans' mission is to "empower military veterans to grow food, communities, and each other". I went out for a volunteer day, and fell in love with the organization, what it's mission was, and how I felt a renewed sense of purpose by growing food for our community. I had little to no experience farming, and after a few years of being a farm hand, I had an opportunity to become the Farm Manager, so I took it. It was then I realized my new calling, to still help my brothers and sisters, but in a different way. I wasn't a battlefield medic anymore, but I was helping treat the invisible wounds left by answering our country's call to arms. I wasn't patching guys/gals up on the battlefield, but helping them process their military experiences, and was a mentor for these folks to help them better themselves. Being put in that position encouraged me to better myself, get some counseling at the Vet Center, and strive to become an empathetic, level headed leader to keep the organization going. Growing Veterans was an important stepping stone in my life to becoming a better person all around. More empathetic, less angry. More loving, less hating. Working on the farm somehow "untrained" my brain from being a soldier.
During my years running the farm, we developed a number of value added products, such as "Charlie Foxtrot IPA" with Aslan Brewing out of Bellingham WA, which is now an annual release at Aslan Brewing Co's Fresh Hop Forum, and "Fire in the Hole Pepper Sauce" with El Fuego Pepper Sauce, also out of Bellingham, WA. In August of 2020, I decided to branch off to start my very own farm business. Growing Veterans taught me so much about myself, as well as how to become a better leader and all around person, that I was ready to emulate what Growing Veterans does but over on the east side of the Cascades. There are so many great local companies who would be a wonderful fit to collaborate with to bring the community closer, especially after the last years pandemic. You don't have to be into farming to come out and have a good time. The other portion of the organization focuses on getting veterans outdoors, whether it be fishing, hunting, hiking or camping. The whole organization revolves around connecting one with nature. Nature can be a very impactful, spiritual experience. It is what helped me throughout the years deal with some of the things I had done, and every veteran should have the opportunity to take advantage of the land they fought for. We hope to create a nationwide movement to help our veterans heal from the experiences in service, and have the opportunity to seek proper help when struggling. We are all looking forward to establishing our roots here in Wenatchee and North Central Washington, and to create a support network for veterans and family members.