Michael Trost deployed multiple times throughout the Middle East during his decades-long Army career. While in Afghanistan, he was shot five times with a machine gun, resulting in more than 30 surgeries and two years of hospitalization. On his final operation, his leg was amputated below the knee and his hand was reconstructed using his toes.
In 2017, Michael and his wife Stephanie purchased 25 acres in Tennessee, where they sustainably raise vegetables, berries, grape vines, bees and hops under the name Pokeadot Hops and Garden. “We have had a long 7 years of recovery. Starting this has been a large part of that recovery and has given me a new mission, purpose and direction in my life. We took raw, forested land and have turned it into a working farm.”
The Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund awarded the Trosts a $5,000 Fellowship to install fencing around their hop yard. Aspiring to be the premier seller of hops in east Tennessee, they grow premium organic of the cascade variety – the most widely used hops in craft beer production. As shortages have loomed in the market, they are hoping to fill that void for years to come.
Their ‘Pokeadot Cabin’ is a farm stay Air bnb and provides tourists and motorcyclists visiting the Great Smoky Mountains a day, night, or weekend on a working farm.
“As a 32-year Army veteran, leadership is part of who I am. Now we are using the farm to help other wounded veterans learn the benefits of finding purpose and direction after injury. Veterans were made to become farmers. We love to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.”