Central Alabama veteran helps neighbors cultivate a love for their land

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CALERA, Ala. (WIAT) — Veteran Billy Graham Jr. is tilling his Calera neighbors’ yards in hopes of promoting backyard farming.

“They know about it, and want it but don’t know how to get it done,” Graham said. “And here I come with a tractor that I’ve had since ’79 till now.”

His ’79 rototiller helps get the hard part out of the way — once the land is tilled, he’s encouraging his neighbors to get outside and get lost in the joy of farming.

“It would help them out with something to do with anxiety, possibly depression,” he said. “Because they’ve been cooped up so long and get out in the yard.”

Now with people staying home during the coronavirus pandemic, he’s tilling more neighbors’ yard than ever before. Pat Johnson, also a veteran, is the latest neighbor to enjoy the benefits of Graham’s rototiller.

“If it’s not right, he does it till it is right,” Johnson said. “He does things for you that you wouldn’t expect him to.”

Johnson said he respects Graham’s willingness to go the extra mile for those around him.

“[Graham embodies] what a veteran really is,” he said. “You know, someone who just seeks out an issue, that goes above and beyond a mission and just really tries to solve the problems that are around him.”

Johnson and Graham are neighbors bonded by a love of their country and an appreciation of farming.

“It’s really important that we actually know how to self-sustain rather than being reliant on someone else to do it for us,” Johnson said. “It goes back to the fabric of America and how we really founded.”

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