When I learned that LTC (retired) Gordon Cucullu and Chris Fontana, the owners and operators of The Valhalla Project, were in need of assistance due to a serious injury suffered by Gordon, a group of friends and I immediately began finding ways to help.  Not satisfied with fundraisers and spreading the word, I decided that I would skip SHOT show this year, which would have been my first SHOT appearance, and take a trip to Arkansas instead.

I’m sure many of you have heard about The Valhalla Project by now, thanks in no small part to Kerry Patton, who is arranging other aid trips to Valhalla in the coming weeks.  But, for a quick rundown, Valhalla is a veteran’s reintegration project run by a retired Special Forces officer, Gordon, and his wife.  But, it is much more than that.  It is an education facility where participants get hands-on experience and education in things like gardening, animal care, healthy living and permaculture.  Described as a 100-year project, the goal is to make Valhalla as self-sufficient as possible by growing it’s own food, managing resources, and devising ingenious ways to urge nature to take its course in such a way that it benefits the property.

Some friends and I had started a fundraising and volunteer program to benefit Valhalla and we had some very good success with it. Ed Gawrelak managed our internet presence and Sheila Stephens made herself available for several radio interviews to spread the word. Dalton Fury and several other authors even got in on the action by donating signed copies of their books to our benefit auction. The response was phenomenal and several people, including Mr. Fury, purchased items from Valhalla’s “critical needs” list to further support the program. But, when I mentioned that I was going to make a trip to Valhalla myself, a few friends decided to jump on board and we made a complicated trek to the Arkansas Ozark Mountains.

Ross Elder at Valhalla inspecting some of the permaculture features.