Patriot Farm serves up family friendly fun
The last time we caught up with Scott Swinehart was when he had found a wallet in a dry bag while fishing near his place on the river. He was able to contact the owner who had lost it a year earlier and was mildly stunned when he heard from Scott.
“I told him there was good news and bad news about the wallet.. The good was I’ve got 49 bucks for you. The bad news is your driver's license is expired.”
That’s the kind of person Scott is. From his days in the military to the 10 years he spent teaching to his role as a financial advisor Scott has always made service to others a priority.
And nothing’s changed.
His newest venture is Patriot Farm a nonprofit organization with a goal of helping the families of veterans through providing outdoor events and we asked about it.
“There are a lot of programs out there for veterans but you just don’t see much for the families and they are in need just as much.”
On March 4th the activity was making maple syrup and Scott invited me to come and take in the proceedings.
After a hike through a pine forest I came upon a clearing. It was one of those magnificent sites overlooking the river valley. All around, families were gathering buckets of sap when not exploring some of the trails or sitting by a campfire stocked with the marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate necessary to create that outdoor delight known as S’mores.
Meanwhile Scott was manning the enclosed area where the sap was being processed into and answering questions from a bevy of kids who were drawn to the syrup-making shed.
“The families of veterans and service people go through a lot. It’s tough on families. So this is really geared toward them. It’s a great time for the families to do something together, outside in nature. I’m making maple syrup from the buckets they’re gathering and the kids are learning about the process but mostly people are just hanging out and enjoying the time together.”
As their informational pamphlet reads, Patriot Farm was created to provide respite and retreat to our nation’s warriors and their families regardless of where or when they served. We want to create an environment to relax and connect with your family. A quiet place to relax quietly in nature.
And on this day from what one can observe, they have done just that.
Patriot Farm has a board consisting of a mixture of men and women, both officers and enlisted and from each branch of service. Chris Priest is a member of the board.
“I was in Desert Storm with Scott in the Marine Corps and I work at the VA myself in Muskegon. I always wanted to work with veterans when I retired from the military after 27 years. I also wanted to do things outside the VA. Scott talked to me and asked if I’d sit on the board. It sounded like a good deal getting veterans out in nature.
“You know, veterans sometimes like to be away from the hustle and bustle of places where there’s lots of people and getting them out in nature is peaceful and tranquil.”
As he pointed out the stellar scene at the river below he added, “Kind of hard to beat that. Being out here on a bluff to me looks like being out in the mountains in northern Georgia or Tennessee. Beautiful and serene.”
As we spoke more families began to show up and were greeted with a warm welcome. Kids were playing while their parents chatted in small groups and Scott? He was busy making syrup all the while fielding questions from a nosy reporter and enjoying the scene around him. “This is what it’s all about,” he said as he surveyed the many goings on around him.
If the goal of Patriot Farm was to provide a fun and fulfilling day, they had certainly succeeded. This was the first of 2 weekends making maple syrup and the successive Saturdays drew nearly 100 folks to the sugarbush site. But it doesn’t stop with syrup.
The planned upcoming family activities include fishing, biking, hiking, wine tasting, hayrides and more.
Patriot Farm provides all this for families to thank them for the sacrifices they have made and with a goal of bringing them emotionally closer.
And the efforts by Scott in spearheading this initiative are indeed a continuation of what he has always done.
For more information on Patriot Farm and how you can be involved call 253. 985.7145.
And you likely won’t have to ask for Scott.
Chances are pretty good it will be him answering the phone.
“We should be saying, ‘Thank you AND your family for your service.’ They make tremendous sacrifices so those veterans can serve.”- Neil Leckman
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