Meet the Team

Board of Advisors:

Larry Daugherty, a 18 year veteran of the PA Army National Guard with deployed time to Iraq,

raises heritage beef and pork on his 40 acre farm in McClellandtown in Fayette County. 

Upon completing his service in 2009, Larry and his wife Anita founded Heritage Farms;

in 2018 they added Daugherty Food Truck LLC. to the family business profile to bring their

custom pulled pork and specialty beef and pork to community events. In 2020 they will launch

an on-farm store. Larry is eager to share his knowledge of  growing your farm food business

economically with his fellow veterans. 

Certified Executive Chef Jason Puryear served in the U.S. Air Force from 1985 to 1991, and continues

to serve his community in his work with local farmers as proprietor of ZEST Kitchen and Pantry in

Meadville,  A Gulf War era veteran, Puryear served in a variety of capacities with the Air Force,

including Service Specialist,  Logistic Specialist, and Search and Rescue and C-130 Load Planner. 

He was stationed at bases in South Dakota, the United Kingdom, and Texas during his career with

the military, rising to the rank of Sergeant.


Currently, Chef Jason owns and operates Zest Kitchen and Pantry, a farm to table restaurant

featuring meat, produce, and poultry from local Crawford County farms. In his quest to expand his

community’s access to innovative cuisine, he plans to establish a small batch farm in Guy Mills, PA

to grow varieties of produce not now available. Puryear also has an interest in hydroponics and extending the reach of

farm use outside of Crawford County.


Michael Reifsnyder was born and raised in Lancaster Pa. He attended Garden Spot High

School and graduated in 1989. August 1989 he enlisted into the US Navy and attended

Boot Camp in NTC Great Lakes. Michael served for 22 years and retired in 2011 as a Chief

Petty Officer. During his 22 years he was assigned numerous positions within the Aviation

Ordnance rating. Some of his assignments included VA-36 as his first assignment in the

Navy and as a Rating assignment detailer and his final assignment as a USN explosive

safety inspector.

Currently he resides in Carlisle Pa with his wife Sharon and 2 daughters Emily and Gabi.

Michael currently operates a mechanical contracting company and a mobile food facility, but

his main focus and passion is for the family farm growing hops. Their farm is called GEMS Farm.

Robert Mowery is a US Navy/Navy Reserves Veteran and Founder of Forever Heart Farm, LLC. & Forever

Heart Apiary, LLC.  in Moon Township, PA.  Robert served in the Intelligence Community and as part of

the initial cyber unit in NCIS 0166.  Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, Robert worked on several

surrounding farms and a small family homestead.  Robert attended Rochester Institute of Technology

(RIT) where he majored in Computer Science and later launching a software technology and consulting


The combination of skills in technology and along with the desire to farm again has led to Forever Heart

Farm adopting automation, technology, and modern agricultural practices to develop a sustainable

operation on 25+ acres.   Robert has served on the board of the PA Veteran Farming Project from 2019-present.  Forever Heart Apiary will be hosting a Bee Keeper training program for Veterans who wish to learn this skill from March-October.  


Rhonda Smith is an Air Force Veteran, a human services professional serving children and families,

and the passionate force behind The Skirted Soldier, based near Altoona, PA. Following 10 years as

an Air Force surgery tech and in nursing billets at Landstuhl, Rhonda and her husband Dan Kennedy,

also an Air Force Veteran, returned to the States and makes her home on a 3-acre farmette in Blue

Knob, PA with her husband Dan, a fellow Air Force veteran, and their daughter. 

Under Rhonda’s leadership, The Skirted Soldier tea is now sold in in 30 states. 10% of the company’s

profit is donated to charities serving female veterans. In 2019 and 2020, the PA Veteran Farming

Project administered grants with donations from The Skirted Soldier.



Associate Advisors: 

Sharon Reifsnyder is a REALTOR® and the spouse of a 22 year Navy veteran. Natives of Lancaster, the Reifsnyders own and operate GEMS Farm, Carlisle, where their varied adventures in agriculture have evolved to focus on the 5 varieties of hops they grow in support of the ever growing craft beer industry.  Sharon's expertise in business and marketing will be of benefit to the veterans and military ag community the Project serves.

Michael Brooker is a 27 year Marine, having served as a rotary wing pilot, and former National Service Officer with Disabled American Veterans. He is the volunteer Coordinator of Bee Bootcamp for the PA Veteran Farming Project and a DAV Chapter Service Officer with DAV Chapter 8 Greater Pittsburgh, and serves on the Pennsylvania Veterans Commission. Born at Plattburgh AFB, Michael is the oldest of 5 sons of an Air Force family and holds degrees from the University of Notre Dame and Troy University. In 2021 Brooker was appointed to the Pennsylvania State Veterans Commission. A current resident of Greensburg, PA, he calls North Carolina "home". 

Jason Puryear of Zest Kitchen.jpg
Reifsnyders at GEMS Farm.jpg

Michael and Sharon Reifsnyder

Jason Puryear

Rhonda Smith

Larry D.jpg

Larry Daugherty


Rob Mowery