At the recent Governor's Forum on Colorado Agriculture, keynoter and New Mexico State University agricultural economist Lowell Catlett (shown at right) sought to broaden the definition of agriculture beyond the production of commodities like corn and wheat by pointing to its vast potential contributions to human health and well-being. One of the pioneering programs he mentioned involves putting returning soldiers afflicted with PTSD to work on NMSU's extension research farms. Having a regimented schedule of what his father's generation simply called "chores," plus working around plants and animals, is proving to be one of the most successful treatments available for suffering soldiers, he said.
It reminded me of a recent program I'd heard on American Public Media's The Story, called "Warrior to Farmer." New Mexico native Matthew McCue served in Iraq, but while there he was struck by the important role of farmers' market in that culture and eventually came to the conclusion that he could do "more good with a shovel" than a gun. He's now engaged in sustainable agriculture. He wants to return to Iraq someday, this time as a farmer rather than a soldier.