John Mahshie supports servicemembers through Veterans Healing Farm

Veterans Healing Farm at Charles George VA Medical Center
VEGGIES FOR VETS: Veterans Healing Farm, founded by John Mahshie, far left, has donated over 35,000 pounds of produce through the Charles George VA Medical Center. Photo courtesy of Mahshie

A grievous loss soon after John Mahshie joined the Air Force in 2000 planted the seed for Veterans Healing Farm, the multifaceted nonprofit he launched in 2013. “My father passed away, and I was really struggling,” he recounts. “On a service trip to Mexico with my base chaplain, I put in a little garden for a family there. Connecting with the earth, having my hands in soil, giving back, was very therapeutic.”

After returning from the service, Mahshie cultivated his vision on family land in Hendersonville, recruiting 13 families — veterans and civilians alike — to each invest $100 and sweat equity in exchange for a season’s worth of produce. With the farm up and running, he and his supporters started to give back: Since 2015, the farm has donated over 35,000 pounds of produce to veterans and their caregivers. Every Tuesday morning during the growing season, the VHF van unloads vegetables, fruits and flower bouquets at the Charles George VA Medical Center in Asheville for a free open-air market.

In addition to civilians and vets farming and volunteering side by side, the farm offers veterans-exclusive boot camps in beekeeping, medicinal herbs and making guitars out of cigar boxes. “These boot camps are empowering,” Mahshie says. “After they leave the farm, they can be part of a bee club, a medicinal herb meetup or [play with] other musicians. They are healthy, healing ways for vets to connect with community.”

Editor’s note: As part of our monthlong celebration of this region’s commitment to sustainable ways of living and working in community, Xpress is highlighting some of those who are making a difference by taking action on a variety of creative and inspiring initiatives.

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About Kay West
Kay West was a freelance journalist in Nashville for more than 30 years, contributing writer for the Nashville Scene, StyleBlueprint Nashville, Nashville correspondent for People magazine, author of five books and mother of two happily launched grown-up kids. To kick off 2019 she put Tennessee in her rear view mirror, drove into the mountains of WNC, settled in West Asheville and appreciates that writing offers the opportunity to explore and learn her new home. She looks forward to hiking trails, biking greenways, canoeing rivers, sampling local beer and cheering the Asheville Tourists.

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One thought on “John Mahshie supports servicemembers through Veterans Healing Farm

  1. Lynn Marilla

    Congrats to John and Nicole on a great article that teaches other about the outstanding work you are doing for our Veterans! You two absolutely ROCK!!!! Keep up the amazing work.

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