Serving Country & Community
Television producer Kit McCall of Hermon spent most of last year behind a camera lens filming some of Maine’s most beautiful and rural farm lands. He and his team at Up Country Productions were on a mission to create a new show about farming and agriculture in Maine called the Growing Home TV Show. Their vision was to showcase the state’s vast potato harvest, leafy greens, livestock, even Maine-made wines.
What they unearthed during research and pre-production, however, was that a large number of Maine’s farmers and growers were retired military members, veterans no longer in uniform but still actively serving their country and communities, one harvest at a time.
“They went and fought for their country, their brothers and sisters, and now they’re back home and fighting for their communities, growing food and raising livestock,” explained McCall. “We could go out and feature different farmers which would be a great show, but we ended up going down a very narrow road just featuring veterans that are farming, most of them with no prior farming experience. I’m so glad we did because it’s been amazing.”
The Growing Home TV Show, hosted by former NFL player and Navy SEAL officer Clint Bruce, began airing Sunday mornings on NBC in January. The entire 13-episode series is scheduled to re-air again in April.
Retired U.S. Marine Corps service members Tim Devin and his fiancé Anne Weinberg of Chase Stream Farm are one pair of farmers featured on the show. The couple, which has close to 50 years of active military experience between them, opted last year to use their skills to open and operate a 65-acre organic farm in Monroe.
“We both decided this was an opportunity when we retired to do something we wanted to do and not necessarily what we had to do,” explained Weinberg. “We wanted to still stay connected to veterans and bring our family someplace we can slow down and get out of the rat race, and farming seemed to be a natural match.”
Together the duo provides vegetables to various schools within regional school unit (RSU) 3.
“Most of our accounts are wholesale accounts. We were selling everything from Chinese cabbage, red bell peppers, tomatoes, Swiss chard, green beans, and kale. Just pick a vegetable, and a lot of it was going to the schools,” explained Devin. “We have a couple of friends who have children in the elementary school and we’d run into them and they’d say, ‘Tim, we had vegetables from your farm,’ and I say, ‘How was it?’ They’d say, ‘They were great.’ And that brings a smile to your face.”
Giving back to the community was just one of the couple’s goals: the other was to create a type of outdoor classroom for other veterans interested in farming.
“Our whole premise to do all this growing was to offer veteran-to-farmers training programs on the farm here. So the ultimate goal is to host military veterans transitioning out of military life, and if they have a desire to be growers or farmers themselves, we want to be the place where they can go to get that training,” explained Weinberg.
Helping veterans find their purpose after military life was a theme McCall ran into again and again while filming.
“Every single one of them want to be so helpful to other veterans who want to get into this type of thing, because a lot of veterans when they come back, have a hard time transitioning back to civilian life,” explained McCall. “We really hope this show can kind of reach out to that guy or girl on the couch going through some things and enlighten them a bit and let them know if you have two acres of land, you can get out there and do some farming and have a purpose every day.”
McCall is already working on season two of The Growing Home TV Show. If all goes as planned, he hopes the show will spread outside of Maine to feature veteran farmers nationwide.
See: Watch season one on NBC Sundays at 11 a.m.