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April 2012


The Vermont sugar makers have had a wonderful Maple Open House Weekend, but a poor production year making less than 50% of their usual yield because of the high daytime temperatures of 80 degrees that made maple trees dry up and bud out early. The strange weather also made the bears come out of hibernation more than three weeks ago. They have been personally visiting some of the Vermont AgrAbility staff members late at night and leaving with multiple birdfeeders, suet, and a red and white striped stocking hat. Baby lambs and goats dot the hilly landscapes. Snap peas and lettuce have been panted. Beef cattle are just now delivering calves and the emus are dropping enormous eggs. It's spring.

Farm Safe VT Facebook has reached the 1100 friends mark. Recent topics of liking, sharing, and posting include Lyme disease, sleep disorders, migraines, Transferring the Farm workshops, and bullying. Check out the page and feel free to share AgrAbility news, educational and assistive technology resources, photos, and expertise. UVM's Margaret Gilman manages the amazing FarmSafe VT Facebook page. "Friend" Farm Safe VT and join in the discussions!

VT AgrAbility attended the 2012 New Hampshire Dairy Management Conference making contacts with the AgrAbility Without Borders project. Fifty farmers and agriculture professionals heard the AgrAbility message. NH Commissioner of Agriculture, Lorraine Merrill,, always a supporter of farm health and safety, recognized the program for providing services to farmers in the border regions of Vermont in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and New York. We are happy to take referrals to reach these folks in some of the Northeast's most rural areas. If you have a farmer in our area who needs services, drop a staff member an email.

VCIL AgrAbility Specialist Janis Moore has started a TBI support group for farmers and returning veterans in White River Junction, which is dab smack in the middle of the state. The hope is to build on the success of Tom Younkman's St Johnsbury TBI support group up in the Northeast Kingdom of the state.

VT AgrAbility staffed an education and networking booth at the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA VT) annual conference. VT Governor Shumlin and Senators Leahy and Sanders reiterated their unwavering support for local farms and foods, and the Farm Bill. Senator Leahy is the senior member of the Agriculture and Appropriations Committees and is a strong advocate for AgrAbility and farmer's health and safety. NOFA's educational focus for the conference was "building a resilient food system." AgrAbility promoted farm health and safety among the hundreds of participants, and provided one on one consultation to the diverse agricultural audience. Staff members met a goat farmer with multiple mental health issues and a market gardener with severe complications of plantar fasciitis. It is astonishing the challenges folks accommodate to maintain farming operations with or without help from programs like AgrAbility.

All of us here in Vermont wish all of you: HAPPY SPRING!

Submitted by Janis Moore