[image-1]Jon Darling, a McClellanville sheep farmer and veteran who served as an Army Ranger, will be featured on Lidia Bastianich’s “Lidia Celebrates America: Homegrown Heroes” episode this weekend.

Darling, who CP profiled in 2016, runs Darling Farm, a 20-acre sheep and goat farm on Honey Hill, a spot in McLellanville surrounded by the Francis Marion National Forest. After joining the military shortly after 9/11, Darling served six tours in Afghanistan, Iraq, and South Africa during his four-year enlistment.

Upon return, he was faced with what to do next and after DJing, working in restaurants, and even owning a restaurant, he found peace on a farm. When we spoke to him in 2016, he was working with the fellowship program Farmer Veteran Coalition, to give vets an opportunity to work on farms.

“The idea is helping vets returning home from service. Sometimes it’s not an easy transformation,” Darling said. “I’m hoping that we can provide a place where they feel safe, take the time to decompress, and work side by side with other ex-soldiers in a similar position.”

Fri. Dec. 15, Darling will join Bastianich, a James Beard and Emmy-award winner and co-owner of Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group with her son Joe and Mario Batali, for her “Homegrown Heroes” program. According to SCETV, the episode celebrates “America’s homegrown heroes-veterans who now cultivate the land they fought to defend. For many vets, farming is therapy for the wounds of war. Lidia farms and cooks with them, then gathers with them for a holiday dinner.”

Tune in Friday at 10 p.m.