Veterans Farming Initiative   |   Alabama   |   Navy

Patrick Johnson participated in two years of beekeeping in high school for his Ag/Horticulture class as a member of the FFA, left for the military, and picked it back up a decade and a half later as an interest and a hobby.

He has teamed up with master beekeepers Stacy & Ben at S&B Apiaries of Elmore, AL and they have been working together for over a year to prepare him for his own certification.

After serving 5 years active duty with the Navy as Petty Officer 2nd Class, (9536) Naval Special Warfare Armorer serving with Special Boat Team 22, Pat returned disabled from service.  It’s the hard situations he’s had to endure at times that have allowed him to have a more wise perspective on his road to starting a production farm.

Now he is working to implement a large scale apiary on his farm in order to support an on-site distillery, with the entrepreneurial mission to produce great tasting raw Alabama honey in bulk along with select fruit crops for the purpose of distillation of brandy wine, whiskey, and other honey based products.

“Beekeeping is awesome! I absolutely love suiting up and getting after it checking hives, doing a removal, or catching swarms,” Pat proudly shares.  But it’s deeper than that.

“It’s incredibly therapeutic for me. Beekeeping makes a person compartmentalize their problems for a little while, giving them a small window of escape from something that might be bothering them. It creates a situation where you have to shutout a lot of negative energy in order to focus on the task at hand. If you don’t focus and as a result you do something wrong, you’ll probably get stung somehow.”

This year Pat was awarded a Tractor Supply Company $1,000 gift card through our Fellowship program.

“Farmer Veteran Coalition gave me my first bee suit back in 2019, and I also attended my state Farmer Veteran Conference. FVC has been great to me and I love Tractor Supply Company. There is one very close to me that I visit often so I’m thankful y’all selected me.”

Pat is currently utilizing his VA vocational rehabilitation services to attend Samford University as a graduate student working on a Master of Science in K12 Collaborative Special Education with a teaching certificate.

His goals for the near future are to standup his own commercial apiary so that he can use his honey production for recipes of liquor and mead.

Even further, he will continue to launch aspects of his strategic business plan as part of his cohort experience with Institute for Veterans & Military Families Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans while addressing local conservation and food insecurity issues in his community, with the help of The Mission Continues cohort experience.