Lidia Visits Vets Who Farm the Land They Fought For

November 29, 2017

Lidia Celebrates America: Homegrown Heroes

This holiday season, Italian chef-extraordinaire Lidia Bastianich travels the country to visit with veterans who find farming to be their path back to civilian life.


“Lidia Celebrates America: Homegrown Heroes,” premiering on Friday, December 15 at 10 pm ET/9 CT, on PBS (check local listings), follows Bastianich as she travels from Loom, W.V., to Anaheim, Calif., to cook with and hear the stories of veterans who are reconnecting with their communities through farming, beekeeping and raising livestock. The one-hour, CPB-supported feature is part of the “Lidia Celebrates America” series. The special explores the role of food and farming to bring people together and foster healing and recovery.

“Food is the single great unifier across all cultures,” Bastianich said. “The table offers a sanctuary and a place to come together for unity and understanding.”

Three of the veterans featured in the special are Matt Smiley, Edgar Hercila and Nate Looney.


Army veteran Matt Smiley farms in Davis, Calif., and works at Farmer Veteran Coalition to help other veterans find meaningful careers in agriculture.


Army veteran Edgar Hercil and Louisiana National Guard veteran Nate Looney have a hydroponic and aquaponic farming operation on a former parking lot in Anaheim, California. They raise tilapia served in local restaurants and use the waste water to raise basil. 

At the end of the episode, the veterans gather at a vineyard in Woodside, Calif., for a meal inspired by Bastianich's travels.  

You can find more on Lidia Celebrates America: Homegrown Heroes at the PBS Food website along with previous specials, including last year’s Lidia Celebrates America: Holiday for Heroes and Lidia Celebrates America: Home for the Holidays from 2015.