Georgia Conservationist of the Year is military veteran
December 14, 2023 - Jon Jackson, founder of Comfort Farms located in Milledgeville, has been named the 2023 Conservationist of the Year by the Georgia Association of Conservation Districts (GACD) for his outstanding contributions to natural resources conservation.
After completing six deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, Jon Jackson left the military and founded Comfort Farms, a 38-acre, 100% regenerative, working farm that helps veterans in crisis. The farm produces a variety of vegetables and livestock and sells goods onsite.
In addition, Jackson and Comfort Farms provide educational opportunities that give veterans in need a place to use their skills and energy to fulfill a purpose. Comfort Farms has provided services to several hundred veterans and their families resulting in thousands of visitors.
Through funding from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Comfort Farms utilizes several practices around the farm which give the workers and community a better understanding of conservation. The farm uses a combination of underground drip irrigation and wobble-head irrigation to improve water efficiency. A well was installed on the farm that provides 100% of its irrigation and water needs.
Cover crops are used between crop rows to improve soil health and provide habitat for local pollinators. The use of a hoop house gives a more controlled growing environment and extends the vegetable growing season.
Terraces are utilized in the orchard and include wood chips between berms to help with moisture absorption and control water flow. The farm utilizes heavy use fencing to control livestock movement, to help the land recover, and for farm attendants to safely move livestock from one area to another.
From the vegetable and livestock production on the farm, Jackson sells several varieties of produce and meats to restaurants, markets, and community members. Jackson also provides educational opportunities and tours on the farm to help participants learn more about soil health, composting, water conservation, and raising livestock.
Jackson works to ensure that every veteran who comes through the program will find the strength to do something great again through a structured, friendly, creative work environment that respects diverse ideas and hard work ethic. As a farm and program that was born from despair to help others to now also educating the community and selling fresh produce and meat, Jon Jackson is a true friend of conservation.
“In agriculture, our greatest resource is the land, and as farmers, it is our duty to be good stewards of that land for future generations,” noted GACD President Jake Ford. “It’s outstanding to see the spotlight on someone who embodies the commitment to conservation this award was designed to acknowledge all while taking time to mentor and support veterans in his community. We congratulate Jon on this honor and wish him luck as he competes to represent Georgia for the national Friend of Conservation award to be announced soon.”
GACD’s Conservationist of the Year award is chosen in conjunction with Georgia’s USDA-NRCS and recognizes producers who are conducting exemplary conservation work on their land and have demonstrated a strong commitment to soil and water conservation through stewardship, outreach and community interactions. Jon was nominated for this award by the Piedmont Soil and Water Conservation District.