Published: February 8, 2023

Category: The Bright Side

Rick Ritter, owner of Dick’s Organics

Age 75 and working a seven-acre farm to harvest 5,000 lbs. of produce for local soup kitchens?

It’s Rick Ritter’s way of giving back. “Since I’ve outlived scores of my comrades, I cherish each day that I’m alive and able to do this work,” he says. “It’s having a purpose that drives me forward.”

The Fort Wayne, Indiana veteran joined the Marine Corp at age 20, following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps. While healing from a knee injury, he encountered an amputee soldier who changed his thinking. After retiring from a career as a PTSD trauma therapist, where he engaged with many homeless and needy clients, he wanted to improve community access to vital resources. “I got into this work because of my time in the military hospital. Since I survived, I saw my work as a tribute to those who didn’t,” he says.

Dick’s Organics began in 2007; it includes a 500-tree orchard, multiple beehives, a greenhouse, and a variety of rescue animals. Working in the soil had helped his grandfather after his return from World War I, and Ritter decided to follow tradition. Dick’s Organics is legally a non-profit, and Ritter relies heavily on volunteer support to harvest the food. He works with the Farmer Veteran Coalition to support careers for vets in farming. Homegrown by Heroes certifies farmers from all military branches to label their products as veteran owned and produced.

Source: Modern Farmer

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Organic & Non-GMO Insights, February 2023