An historical note from the Victory Grower – also blogging as the UC Food Observer – on Veterans Day

Connecting veterans to farming and ranching dates back to the earliest days of the United States. In the pre-Revolutionary War era, veterans of the French and Indian War – which was the North American theater of the Seven Years’ War being fought in Europe – received land grants for their military service. Between 1775 and 1855, the United States government provided what were called “bounty-land warrants” for some types of military service. Bounty-land warrants (land grants) were used to encourage enlistment. They were also used to reward veterans for service during a seemingly endless series of wars and military actions (including the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, etc.) The U.S. government ended these programs in 1855.

But the need to connect veterans and others to farming didn’t go away.

California’s Land Settlement Colonies

In the early 1930s, the New Deal provided a number of resettlement and subsistence homestead programs through the Resettlement Administration. But the model for these programs came even earlier. One model was created in 1917, when the state of California passed a Land Settlement Act that ultimately created two land resettlement colonies. The Act provided funds to purchase more than 6,000 acres near Chico, in Butte County, where the Durham colony was started in 1918. A second colony – Delhi – was started in Merced County in 1920.

The legislation and the programs it created were strongly influenced by University of California professor Elwood Mead. Mead chaired the Rural Institutions division at Berkeley, and later was the driving force behind some of the West’s largest water projects. Mead helped structure the programs based […]