What do a military career and farming have in common?
Farming means a lot of things to a lot of people.
To Brett Rosenberg, it’s an extension of the passion he learned from 15 years of military service and from the men and women who served alongside him. Could it be that this passion is what makes veteran farmers so great?
Brett served 15 years total in the Marine Corps, the Air Force, and at the State and Defense Departments.
During that time he was deployed twelve times and served our country on three separate continents. Eventually, a back surgery forced him to end his military career. The drive that he learned through that service and through his colleagues, however, stuck with him.
We asked Brett what the transition from the service to civilian life was like for him.
As we’ve heard from many veterans, Brett described the transition from being surrounded by a high-intensity lifestyle to a much more subdued and even apathetic mindset—a lifestyle that he just couldn’t step into.
“It’s been a struggle to find the same intensity and sense of purpose. I was around guys who would literally rather die than fail. A conversation about eggs would turn into a more heated debate than politics.
“That type of passion was and still is dearly missed.”
Passion is what makes veteran farmers great
Stepping out of that level of passion for work was a shock for Brett. Much of the world functioned without that level of drive and intensity. Brett found that although being surrounded by that apathy is what made the transition difficult, holding on to his passionate attitude allowed him to ride it out.
“I traversed into the corporate world successfully and sold cybersecurity software to the military and government for a few years. I attribute my success to the same attitude that made my colleagues and myself successful in the military.
“I believe too many folks in the corporate world live their lives as if their job was simply an extension of school. Something they went to every day, enjoyed lunch with friends and got on their bus to go home at 5 o’clock.
“Nobody was attacking the job as if their life depended on it because, of course, it didn’t! However, that is the passion I miss dearly and ultimately it was part of the decision to go out on my own.”
Farming is an extension of a veteran’s purpose and drive
Brett sought a lifestyle that could match the purpose of his military career. He found farming.
“If any person, group, culture, or society expects to thrive or just survive it must be able to protect itself from dangerous elements and provide itself with food and shelter. Farming is as necessary as the air we breathe. I feel it’s the sense of purpose I miss from being in the military that attracts me to farming.”
The same sense of purpose is what marks a great farmer. Farming takes dedication, a strong mission, and grit.
Veterans often approach farming already in possession of those traits. Because of that, they’re often more resilient, learn faster, and farm more earnestly than the casual farmer.
The end result? Vets make incredible farmers. As a farmer, Brett dedicates himself to farm responsibly and to pass on that serious regard for the earth no matter how difficult it may prove.
“I have an 11-year-old son. I feel like the biggest issue we have as a human race is to tackle our problems with natural resource depletion. I want him to understand this challenge and know that his father is trying to do something about it.”
We’ve seen this pure, unadulterated drive before. We could even argue that it’s part of what makes us human. We know from experience that people who embrace it rarely fail in their mission.
We also have a deep respect for people like Brett that feeds into our mission here at Upstart University to empower, educate, and equip farmers at any stage.
This includes experienced farmers and inexperienced farmers, old farmers and young farmers, men and women, international or domestic, and any others. Anyone can farm with passion and hard work.
“I have no background in farming. The mission statement [of Upstart U] sold me as it aligns strongly with what I’m doing.“
Attitudes like Brett’s give new meaning to the phrase “a bright future.”
At first glance, the future of Brett’s farm (Semper Fi Farms) looks simple. Five years from now, he sees himself as “the successful owner of Semper Fi Farms, providing fresh produce, hops, and sustainable farming systems to CSAs, households, and commercial farming operations.”
When put into context with Brett’s raw determination and his understanding of the importance of farming, this goal seems to glow brighter. After all, this type of passion is contagious, and it causes a domino effect that means more people are educated, more farmers empowered, and more people fed.
What’s next for Brett Rosenberg?
For now, Brett is finishing up his education and gaining as much experience as possible.
Brett is finishing up course work on Upstart University and will enroll in the next training course through a Denver organization called Veterans to Farmers. Each program offers farmers real-life information and one on one help to plan and run a farm.
The two programs fit hand in hand; Upstart University helps aspiring farmers prepare to start a farm business on their own time through versatile lessons. Veterans to Farmers helps farmers to apply their hydroponic knowledge in a hands-on classroom. We’ve been proudly partnered in empowering farmers since July.
Brett is the second Upstart Farmer to utilize Veterans to Farmers.
Empower other vets like Brett to find their farm.
Today we’re celebrating the Marine Corps Birthday and feeling grateful for our country’s veterans. Thank you for the passion that you’ve poured into this country!