Veteran’s Farm Datil Salt, a project spearheaded by Flagler College’s Students in Free Enterprise team, is one of 10 finalists selected after the first round of public voting in Walmart’s “Get on the Shelf” contest.
The contest received more than 4,000 entries generating more than 1.1 million votes.
"The top 10 finalists represent the smart and inspirational products that Walmart customers want to see on the shelf online and in their local stores," said Chris Bolte, vice president of @WalmartLabs. "We have been inspired by the creativity and passion of the contestants as they promote their products through traditional media, social marketing and personal networks. We look forward to the next round of voting where the winners will be decided by the American public."
The three winning products will have the opportunity to be sold on Walmart.com and the grand prize winner will get the chance to be carried in select U.S. Walmart stores after the final round of voting is completed at the end of the month.
“Our mission was to tell the story of Jacksonville’s Veterans Farm,” said SIFE adviser Barry Sand. The farm is an organization that helps disabled combat veterans get back into society through the use of horticulture therapy. “Getting the product into Walmart’s top 10 is really going to help tell that story and help disabled veterans.”
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, the Jacksonville’s Veterans Farm teaches disabled combat veterans skills to help them overcome their physical and mental barriers while also getting jobs.
“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.
In addition to the farm, SIFE also teamed up with Keith Bailey, owner and CEO of Dr. Datil Food Products to produce the Veterans Farm Datil Salt.
“It’s exciting to be able to have a product that I developed that will be able to help veterans who are coming back from war,” said Bailey. “To me, the product is great but the cause is greater.”
Together with the farm and Dr. Datil Food Products, Flagler SIFE students helped redesign the product’s labels, produced a commercial and developed a campaign to win Walmart’s “Get on the Shelf” competition.
“Being able to help out young men and women who fight to give me the ability to sit in a college classroom is something I’ve very proud to be a part of,” said Flagler College sophomore and the initiative’s project leader Shelby Ptacek.
Final round voting begins April 11 through midnight on April 24, after which the top three winners will be announced. To view the video, go to getontheshelf.com/product/4970/Veterans-Farm-Datil-Pepp.