Public voting in the the 2020 My LA2050 Grants Challenge has been postponed until Monday, July 13, 2020.
Check out the finalists!
We are excited to share our conversation with Michael O'Gorman, Executive Director of the Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC), a national nonprofit that works with veterans to cultivate a new generation of farmers and food leaders. Michael has been farming since 1970 and first began FVC in 2008 out of the back of his pickup truck.
Q: What motivated you to start your career in social impact?
A: Even as a young kid, I've always thought about what I will do in my life that will be impactful. I farmed because I loved it but also because I wanted to do something that was real, difficult, and that would give me a platform to have an impact. Farming had no hype to it. In a way, throughout my entire farming career I have thought about impact, about the people who worked for me, and the people who ate my food. Coming after 9/11 was the convergence of two major things – men and women serving in the military who were coming from farm towns, and our farms that lacked men and women. I put two and two together and it seemed to amount to something greater. I knew I was onto something that no one else was doing and that would be impactful. But it became more than I ever imagined. And it had a major impact on me.
Q: What do you do in your current position?
A: As Executive Director I oversee the project, but I also think a lot about what we can do that will actually be of help to the most veterans. I try to assist them with any challenges. Having spent my career in agriculture, I think about veterans who want to start a life in agriculture and how we can help them succeed and stay with it.
Q: What one skill or resource has been indispensable to your career thus far?
A: As a vegetable farmer, I was attracted to the interplay of growing food and people. Vegetable production was like a team sport or group activity. People worked in unison with a common goal of creating a farm producing vegetables together. It took directing people to grow food as a communal creation. That lent itself to FVC; it's like my crew – we're all growing food together and instilling a sense of common purpose and shared joy.