Davon Goodwin: “Getting My Hands in the Dirt Changed Me”
“When I got on the farm, I felt re-invigorated,” says Davon Goodwin. “I felt a connection. Putting my hands in the dirt changed me.”
The Laurinburg, North Carolina, veteran suffered a traumatic brain injury from a roadside bomb in Afghanistan in 2010. He also injured the L 1 and L2 vertebrae in his lower back.
Goodwin had studied biology and botany in college. “When I woke up after my injury, I didn’t want those things anymore,” he says. “I developed narcolepsy from my head injury. Then I met two doctors with a 500-acre farm looking for a farm manager. That was the start of farming.”
Goodwin says agriculture and military service have much in common.
“Military service and farming require the same discipline, persistence, and commitment,” he says. His first job taught him to manage land, set up a farm, and maintain a vineyard. He opened OTL Farms, where he grows three acres of Muscatine grapes. He hopes to expand to eight acres of U-pick.
“After the injury I felt I wasn’t serving,” he says. “Now I’m giving my community fresh fruits and vegetables–serving in a different way.” The Farmer Veteran Coalition, a National AgrAbility partner, also helped Goodwin. “You gain the camaraderie you had in the service,” he says. He uses the Coalition’s “Homegrown by Heroes” label for his products and bought equipment with help from its Fellowship Fund. “Farming can be scary,” he says. “It helps if you find another vet who farms and get your feet wet. I’m excited about what the coalition can do in North Carolina.”