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April 2015

West Virginia

Representatives from West Virginia State University, WV Veterans to Agriculture/West Virginia Department of Agriculture, the Veterans Workforce, and WV AgrAbility staff met to develop a plan to receive referrals and provide services to veterans interested in pursuing an agricultural enterprise. The system of referral, agriculture knowledge base assessment, training, and apprenticeships, which utilizes vacant lots, WV National Guard facilities; the Parchment Valley Conference Center is expected to be forthcoming in 2015. An agriculture incubator model utilizing alternative and traditional growing methods will be incorporated.

WV AgrAbility staff attended the 2015 Appalachian Grazing Conference and sponsored an AgrAbility display. Approximately 250 producers attended the event. They received information aimed at helping grassland farmers improve productivity and profits. The conference is a cooperative effort of the Greene County Conservation District (PA), the US Department of Agriculture/Natural Resources Conservation Service (PA and WV), the WV Association of Conservation Districts, the WV Conservation Agency, WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, and the WVU Cooperative Extension Service.

WV AgrAbility staff spoke on the topic of, "Working Smarter - Not Harder" to the WV Randolph County Farm Bureau. Ten members attended. After the presentation, the wife of a WV AgrAbility client spoke to the group about ways that AgrAbility had helped her husband remain in the farming job he loved. She described the farm modifications that allowed her husband to feed his cattle close to the time of his death, which gave him feelings of purpose and satisfaction.

WV AgrAbility staff attended the 2015 Farm Opportunities Day and provided a display. This one-day training, held at Glenville State College's WACO Center, drew approximately 100 farm producers, including new farmers and farm youth. The program highlighted commercial farm opportunities which allow West Virginia farmers to make the most of their farm resources. WV AgrAbility staff emphasized the ability of aging producers and farmers with disabilities to continue farming, while reducing the risk of secondary injury with the use of assistive technology and modifications.

WV AgrAbility staff met with an AgrAbility client who recently received equipment and modifications purchased by West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services. An AgrAbility assessment detailing the client's limitations and recommendations was completed and the farmer made application to WVDRS for funding for those recommendations. To date, he has received a hand clutch and a bump gate. Other requests for modifications are pending, regarding decisions for funding approval by the WVDRS.

WV AgrAbility staff conducted a farm site assessment for a veteran vegetable producer in McDowell County. WV AgrAbility staff is working with the farmer in conjunction with WV State University and WV Veterans to Agriculture/WV Department of Agriculture in alternative production. An agriculture incubator model will be utilized when Spring weather arrives so that a high tunnel can be constructed.

Submitted by Janet Della-Giustina