Feb. 12--Julie Hollars spent 20 years in the Navy, then returned to Calaveras County to grow fruits, nuts and peppers.
She got help in the transition from the Farmer Veteran Coalition, a Davis-based program that helps former service members around the nation move into agriculture.
She got even more help this week at the World Ag Expo in Tulare, in the form of a tractor donated by Kubota, one of the coalition partners.
"This really is a dream come true," Hollars told The Fresno Bee. "I would drive by the Kubota tractor dealer in my hometown and think about how great it would be to have a tractor."
Hollars has 13 acres in the Vallecito area, where she grows peaches, pears, plums, pomegranates, persimmons, cherries, walnuts, almonds, pecans, apples, olallieberries, figs and peppers. These are unusual crops in the Sierra Nevada foothills, which mainly is grazing land dotted with vineyards.
I would drive by the Kubota tractor dealer in my hometown and think about how great it would be to have a tractor.
Julie Hollars, farmer and veteran
Hollars spent 20 years in the Navy, working in aviation and reaching the rank of chief petty officer. She retired in 2008 and moved to the family farm, founded by her great-grandparents and known as Farbotnik. She supplies local grocery stores and farmers markets and recently branched into jam and jelly.
Before the tractor, Hollars and her mother, Bea, relied on a rototiller, a wheelbarrow and a four-wheeler that pulls a sprayer. "Whatever piece of equipment would start that day was what I used," she told the Fresno paper.
The L-series tractor came with a tiller donated by Gearmore Inc. and Big Valley Tractor of Stockton. The coalition also gave Hollars a greenhouse to grow her seedlings.
Kubota Tractor Corp. awards products to veterans via its Geared to Give program.
"Through our partnership with the FVC, we are investing in the future of farming by making a difference in the lives of farmers who give back to their local communities where our valued customers and dealers live and work," said Tom Sieper, senior director and western division manager.
The Farmer Veteran Coalition celebrated its seventh anniversary Friday. More information is at www.farmvetco.org.
John Holland: 209-578-2385, firstname.lastname@example.org
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