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Veterans plant potatoes for WV agriculture project

Register-Herald photo by Brad Davis Active duty National Guardsman Tony Johnson drives the tractor while his son Devin follows closely behind making sure seeds from the planter are properly buried during a Register-Herald visit to the historic farm June 8.
Register-Herald photo by Brad Davis
Active duty National Guardsman Tony Johnson drives the tractor while his son Devin follows closely behind making sure seeds from the planter are properly buried during a Register-Herald visit to the historic farm June 8.

BECKLEY, W.Va. — It’s a long road to get to the top of Ellison Ridge, especially if the route has been through Iraq or Afghanistan.

That’s the story of six veterans who are participating in a potato project with the West Virginia Department of Agriculture. They’ve been at war, they’ve been away. Now they’re part of growing something.

And it’s more than just potatoes.

Vets like Tony Johnson, who did several deployments in the Middle East, are ready to return to West Virginia to build a life and an economy.

“Most people go to active duty because they don’t think there’s a job in West Virginia, and so with this program we can show them they can be in the Guard, serve in the military and still have a job, especially with coal and a lot of other industries going away,” Johnson said.

A farm kid from Pickaway in Monroe County, Johnson said he joined the military to get away from the a life of making hay and working with turkeys.

“It’s come full circle…

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