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May 2012


Services for Independent Living, Mexico Branch collaborated with the MO AgrAbility Program to present two Gardens For Every Body educational programs. AgrAbility Extension staff provided AgrAbility programmatic materials and Gardens For Every Body resources so SIL staff could present an "introduction to raised bed gardening" and "edible crops" accessible gardening programs for individuals with disabilities who live in rural agricultural communities.

Karen Funkenbusch, AgrAbility Extension, and Amber Wolfe, National AgrAbility Project, facilitated a teleconference with the Arthritis Foundation Eastern Missouri Chapter to explore future collaborative arthritis and agriculture programs. Stay tuned for additional updates.

AgrAbility Extension staff attended workshops hosted by the Missouri Department of Veterans Affairs on federal benefits for veterans, dependents, and survivors. AgrAbility Extension staff were provided with an overview about the State of Missouri Veterans Benefits Awareness Program and provided with a "Road Map to Military Resources," a guide to Missouri resources for military service members and their families.

AgrAbility Extension staff met with the MO Department of Agriculture and MO Department of Labor to explore collaborative initiatives that cooperatively support Missouri farmers and ranchers. Missouri's Department of Agriculture, Department of Labor, and AgrAbility Programs will collaboratively launch a programmatic website during the month of May.

Chris Davis, Assistive Technology technician with the University of Missouri Extension, and Janet Hurst, farm outreach worker, Franklin and Warren Counties, Lincoln University Cooperative Extension, reported that four small farmers with disabilities were awarded USDA funding to build hoop houses as part of a new pilot project under the "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food" initiative. The USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service launched this project to increase the availability of locally grown produce in a conservation-friendly way. NRCS provides financial assistance for the project through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the EQIP Organic Initiative, and the Agricultural Management Assistance program. A seasonal hoop house is a greenhouse-like structure, at least 6 feet in height, which modifies the climate inside to create more favorable growing conditions for vegetable and other specialty crops grown in the natural soil beneath it. Made of ribs of plastic or metal pipe covered with a layer of plastic sheeting, hoop houses are easy to build, maintain, and move. Hoop houses are used year-round in parts of the country, providing steady incomes to farmers—a significant advantage to small farm owners, limited-resource farmers, and organic producers.

Submitted by Jackie Allenbrand, Chris Davis, Willard Downs, Karen Funkenbusch, and Janet Hurst