March 6, 2012
Flagler College’s Students in Free Enterprise team is working on a project to change the lives of disabled combat vets by landing a veteran-made product on the shelves of every Wal-Mart store.
SIFE has teamed up with Jacksonville’s Veterans Farm, an organization that helps disabled combat veterans get back into society through the use of horticulture therapy. The farm grows datil peppers and blueberries that carry the Veterans Farm label.
SIFE’s goal is to win Wal-Mart’s “Get on the Shelf” contest. The competition lets the public vote on products not carried by Walmart. Three winners will be able to sell on Walmart.com, and the grand prize winner could end up on actual shelves of stores.
“Our mission is to win that Wal-Mart competition,” said SIFE adviser Barry Sand. “If we do, it will bring jobs to war veterans all over the country.”
The farm teaches disabled combat veterans skills to help them overcome their physical and mental barriers while also getting jobs. It was started by Sgt. Adam Burke, an OIF/OEF combat veteran and Purple Heart recipient who was wounded in battle during a 15-month tour in Iraq.
“When I returned I noticed that many of my fellow veterans were finding it tougher coming home than leaving for combat,” Burke said. “With more and more vets returning home, the problem is only growing. With this in mind, I started Veterans Farm.”
Through a 6-month fellowship program, veterans learn how to grow organic fruits and vegetables that will provide them with the resources to go out and start their own farms, or to work for larger farming organizations.
The farm teamed with Keith Bailey, owner and CEO of Dr. Datil Food Products to produce the Veterans Farm Datil Salt, and Flagler students helped redesign the product’s labels, produced a commercial and developed a campaign to win Wal-Mart’s “Get on the Shelf” competition.
Flagler SIFE is asking the public to support veterans by going online and voting for Veterans Farm. Voting for the contest is from March 7 through April 3. To view the video and vote, go to http://www.getontheshelf.com/product/4970/Veterans-Farm-Datil-Pepp.