July 2021 If you have not already visited with Sara Creech at her booth at the Carmel Farmers Market, you should pop by during your next visit to the market and check out all the nutritious and delicious offerings that Blue Yonder Organic Farm has available. I had the pleasure of speaking with Creech about her story and what made this OIF/OEF Air Force veteran and surgical nurse leave Florida, purchase a 43-acre farm (sight unseen) in North Salem, Indiana, and become an organic farmer. Starting a New Chapter and a New Life Prior to starting her organic farm in 2012, Creech lived in Florida with her husband. Neither had any experience in farming, and they were not avid farmers market customers. And then life threw them a wicked curve ball. Creech’s husband was diagnosed with colon cancer at age 35. Approximately a year after his diagnosis, he lost his battle, and Creech was left to pick up the shattered pieces of her life. “I started learning about farming after my husband was diagnosed,” Creech said. “Before , we really had no idea where our food came from. After his diagnosis, we researched everything we could about nutrition and the importance of healthy food. We totally changed our diets.” Eating healthy and learning about organic farming became a priority for Creech. Their diets were the only part about her husband’s illness that they could control. “When you have a cancer diagnosis, there’s so much you can’t control,” Creech expressed. “Your diet is something you can control, and if you put the work in, it will make a difference in your health. We had a dream of buying a farm, and it was something we could see ourselves doing after his retirement from the military. That became our dream.” Most unfortunately, that dream was not realized in the way that Creech and her husband had pictured it. But Creech knew that she did not want to stay in Florida and that she no longer had the heart for working in hospitals. It was time to create a new chapter and a brand-new life. This realization led Creech to the small farm in New Salem where she would create Blue Wonder Organic Farm and open doors to fellow veterans who are also looking for their next phases in life. Homegrown by Heroes Creech is committed to helping fellow military veterans, and through her voyage of becoming a proper farmer and years of learning how to successfully farm her land, she became connected with the Farmer Veteran Coalition, NCAT and ATTRA—organizations that focus on sustainable agricultural programs and veterans outreach programs related to agriculture and small-scale farming. Creech shared, “One of the things that I think makes small-scale farming or farming in general so attractive to veterans is that when you get out of the military, you feel a little disoriented and disconnected. There is a veil of separation between you and everybody else, and that can be hard when in a community to connect with people who don’t understand what you’ve been doing the last five to 10 years or so. I think agriculture and small-scale farming is a kind of bridge.” Creech works with the aforementioned organizations and the state chapters to help support the approximately 400 Hoosier veterans who are in agriculture or farming. “I work with another organization called AgrAbility that is headquartered at Purdue University,” Creech said. “It has a program that works with the Farmer Veteran Coalition and has a special outreach program for veterans. I’ve been working with them for the past seven years. Whether it’s training programs or just social get-togethers at different people’s farms, there’s a lot going on with veterans and agriculture in the state, and it’s super exciting.” Growing Blue Yonder Organic Farm Creech joined the esteemed list of vendors at the Carmel Farmers Market in 2015. Her parents, who also reside on the farm, have been a huge part of Creech’s success at local farmers markets. Creech and her mother first started selling their products at the Danville Farmers Market. And soon after that, they were selling out of five different area farmers markets, including Carmel’s. “I fell in love with Carmel, and the volunteers are just amazing,” Creech shared. “I’ve created this new family made up of my customers, the volunteers at the farmers markets and the people that I’ve met through the training programs. These are all the people that make up my support system.” What started out as a humble selection of chickens, eggs and produce, Creech has grown into a successful and vibrant farm that produces grass-fed beef and lamb, chicken and eggs, honey and a whole array of nutritious and organic fruits and vegetables. “I love my life, the farm, the animals and the veterans,” Creech exclaimed. “There’s just something incredible about this. While I can’t guarantee that experience for everybody, for me, it’s just incredible.” For more information on Blue Yonder Organic Farm, visit blueyonderorganicfarm.com. And be sure to stop by Creech’s booth on Saturdays at the Carmel Farmers Market and say hello! For a complete list of vendors at CFM, visit carmelfarmersmarket.com.