The New Era - All about Sweet Home since 1929

By Scott Swanson
Of The New Era 

Local veteran receives Kubota tractor for farm


November 8, 2017

Military veterans Cherri Marin, second from right, with her son Ayden, center, and Matt Fitzwater of Kentucky, receive tractors from Kubota at a ceremony in Phoenix, Ariz. At left is Alex Woods, Kubota vice president of sales operations, and, far right, Michael O’Gorman, FVC executive director.

After more than two decades in the U.S. Air Force, Cherri Marin decided it was time for a change.

Now she’s starting a farm in Sweet Home and, to aid her in that endeavor, last week she received a brand new Kubota tractor – free, courtesy of the company’s “Geared to Give” program.

“I’d never heard of Sweet Home before,” she said. “This ended up being the perfect property for us.”

Marin was born in Portland and grew up in Oregon and Washington, graduating in 1993 from Ephrata High School in Washington. She immediately joined the Air Force, at 17.

“I’m the only military in my family,” she said.

She served 10 years as a combat videographer.

“That was pretty cool,” Marin said. “I did a lot of journalism-type stuff. They sent us up to Syracuse University for broadcast journalism.”

After a couple more years as a medic, she went into recruiting for her final nine years and finished her career in 2014 as an E-7, a master sergeant.

She served her entire career state-side, she said, “everywhere from Texas to New York to Colorado.”

Her dad was a farmer when she was growing up, Marin said, and she’s always been interested in that occupation and did some farming in Colorado. When her two older daughters moved out on their own, she said, she decided it was time to get out of the military and try something different.

Her mother lives in St. Paul and Marin decided to try to settle nearby.

She and her son Ayden, 6, settled down on a 4½-acre parcel on Highway 228, near Holley, and got to work. She named it Sunshine and Reins Farm.

“Last season was kind of trial and error to figure out what grows here and what doesn’t,” Marin said. “It was very different than Colorado.”

Corn and tomatoes didn’t do well for her, she said, though she attributes some of that to the soil and the weather. Also, “it was tough without a tractor.”

That’s where the Farmer Veteran Coalition stepped in. The organization, founded in 2007 to provide careers in agriculture to veterans, works to identify the needs and further the agriculture careers of those who have served their country and are now serving their communities through farming.

FVC helps former servicemen and women to get into the field in a variety of ways. One is its “Geared to Give” program with Kubota, through which FVC selects qualified veterans who are pursuing a future in farming to receive donated Kubota Standard L-Series compact tractors and other support for their respective farming operations.

According to a Kubota company statement, its philanthropic mission is to “power and empower those who move the earth.”

The company says it selected its L-Series models because their versatility and efficiency are “ideal for meeting the varying needs of many small- and medium-sized farming operations,” it said in a statement.

“This program empowers farmer veterans to achieve their dreams and make a true difference in their farming operations and in their communities,” said Alex Woods, Kubota vice president of sales operations, supply chain and parts.

“Kubota is proud to offer a token of our gratitude for those who have done so much for this country through their military service. We are extremely pleased to help these farmers continue to make a difference in their work for many years to come.”

The company has provided equipment and funding support to a total of 21 veterans in the Farmer Veteran Coalition’s Fellowship Program, which assists them with resources to return to or begin a new career in food and farming.

During a ceremony held in Phoenix, Ariz., on Oct. 25, Marin and three other recipients, one from each of Kubota’s four operating divisions, were presented with keys to their new tractors. Her tractor was delivered Thursday, Nov. 2 by Linn-Benton Tractor in Tangent.

The 2017 recipients were selected from each of Kubota’s four operating Divisions. Marin is the program’s first Air Force veteran.

Michael O’Gorman, executive director of FVC attended the ceremony in Arizona.

“There is no greater gift for a farmer than a tractor, especially for those just starting out. We’re thrilled to work with Kubota to help further the careers of our veterans.

“You can really see the magnitude of this program when you meet these four veterans whose lives are now positively impacted by the ‘Geared to Give’ program. Together, we can guide their passion to earn for themselves a meaningful place in the agriculture community.”

In addition to the tractors, Land Pride donated implements to outfit each veteran with the right tools for their respective farming operations. Marin received a brush hog and tiller.

Firebird Products, a Kubota supplier for aftermarket accessories, donated Kubota-orange canopies for each tractor, which will help shield the operators from the elements.

According to Kubota, Marin was selected “because she still has a desire to serve, this time helping her community and other veterans by becoming a mentor for work in agriculture.”

She said she plans initially to get involved in local farmers markets in the Mid-Valley, partly because having a stand along the busy highway where she lives could present “a traffic hazard.”

“I want to try my hand out there and get into the program where I provide all the stuff I grow to people,” she said.

Through “trial and error” this past season, “I did a lot of trade,” she said.

Cherri Marin shows off her brand new Kubota tractor, which she plans to use to establish a farm after retiring from the U.S. Air Force. Photo by Scott Swanson

This year she plans to add organic compost to her soil, “now that I have equipment,” to provide missing nutrients, and then try some crops that she believes aren’t well-represented at local farmers markets, such as strawberries and others that might not be the normal fare.

“It seems like everybody comes to harvest at the same time,” she said. “Having tools will make a huge difference.”

She also is planning to erect a greenhouse to help extend her growing season.

Ultimately, Marin said, she wants to establish “a place where I could help veterans.

“That’s my ultimate goal. I want to get them into the dirt. I feel like I am at the time in my life to live out my passion and become self-sustaining while providing others with great products and service.”


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