When he left the Air Force in 2008, several years after his father’s death in a motorcycle accident, former Air Force Senior Airman John Mahshie felt “alone and isolated.” And he figured other vets might be struggling as well.
“I wanted to create a community for fellow veterans who needed a sense of belonging,” Mahshie, 38, tells PEOPLE. “I had this vision of growing a ‘healing farm’ . . . [because] it’s just as important to feed the body as it is to feed the spirit.”
So in 2013 Mahshie vets a new transformed a nine-acre plot of land in Hendersonville, N.C., that his family had used to raise pigs into lush farmland filled with organic fruit trees, berry bushes and medicinal herbs and flowers.
“I learned pretty much everything about planting and growing by watching YouTube videos,” says Mahshie, who, with his wife, Nicole, 34, now invites former service