[Photo: Veterans joined guest speakers and experts in agri-business for the Day of Healing at Briarwood Cattle Farm, hosted by farm owner and veteran Marvin Frink. The day included yoga, meals, a farm tour and support for veterans interested in getting started in agriculture.]
By Catharin Shepard • Editor • Military veteran Marvin Frink keeps a chair out behind a lean-to in the fields where his cattle graze, set far back off the road in South Hoke.
Sometimes he goes out there to sit and enjoy the peace and quiet, while able to see all around him across the flat land.
That feeling is just part of the benefits that launching his own farming operation have brought Frink, who returned home after serving 15 years in the military, and found himself suffering with PTSD.
His father got him into farming, and other mentors supported him along the way as he founded Briarwood Cattle Farm, located off of Blue Springs Road in Hoke County. This year and for the past several years, he’s worked to assist other veterans who are interested in farming, to find the same success and healing by working with the land.
“This farm is a healing farm. This farm is definitely not just for me, it’s for everyone,” he told a group of assembled veterans.
Frink and his wife, Tanisha Frink, along with many supporters, volunteers and guest speakers hosted the annual Day of Healing 2023 at Briarwood Cattle Farm this past Saturday.
The morning program featured everything from yoga with instructor Daphne Fuller, prayer with Pastor Willie McCaskill, breakfast by Panera Bread and a tour of the farm by Frink himself.
The afternoon featured speakers including Sheriff Roderick Virgil, veteran pork farmer Adam Jeter and a number of consultants involved with agri-business who offered tips and help for veterans interested in getting into agriculture.
“Everyone who was here as key speakers to help someone else to get going,” Frink said.
The day also served to help civilians understand military veterans better, with Frink offering insight into how they think. Veterans like to get right to the point to avoid wasting time, and they are always striving for excellence.
“We were given three blocks as non-commissioned officers, a one block, a two block and a three block. A one block consists of excellence, a two block was you’re doing all right but you could do better. A three block is, you’re screwing up,” Frink said. “Well, no one told us outside of retiring out of the military how to turn that off. So every day we’re considering and looking for one blocks, every single day.”
Many veterans also have trouble turning off the part of their mind that’s always scanning their surroundings, looking for potential danger, he said. Frink demonstrated how standing back a bit and to the side from a veteran can make conversations more comfortable – giving the veteran space to see what’s going on around them while talking.
“We’re forever being protectors and providers, and those are key factors that will help us help you, help you help us,” Frink said.
Helping veterans find healing and peace is what the annual Day of Healing is all about, the founder said.
“I would love for everyone to take away the peace and understanding, and letting things go, and letting people know that there is support for each other. That someone loves you. We’re all valued and someone is listening to you,” Frink said.
Frink was featured last year in an article in People magazine for his work as a veteran farmer.
There were many sponsors for the event, including Smithfield, AgriAbility, Stevenson Consulting Group, the Wounded Warrior Project, Cheerwine, N.C. A&T and more. Participants came from as far away as Virginia State University to support the Day of Healing.
Frink also extended special thanks to his mentor, Harrison Campbell, who helped him get into farming.
Briarwood Farm offers locally produced beef to customers. Frink is additionally working on building a Briarwood processing facility in Fairmont, Briarwood Custom Meats, that will process beef and pork for area farms.
For more information, visit www.BriarwoodCattleFarm.com.
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