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June 2015

West Virginia

WV AgrAbility Program Specialist, Inetta Fluharty, conducted an on-site farm assessment in Barbour County, WV. The farmer recently experienced an injury from being pinned between his tractor and a tree. AgrAbility staff assisted the farmer in exploring options for changing his agricultural operation. A team of West Virginia University Extension agents assisted in the cost analysis of an alternative agricultural production plan.

Accessible rampInetta Fluharty recently spoke at a meeting of the WV Statewide People First Advisory and Planning Committee at the Parchment Valley Conference Center. "Raising Your Own Vegetables", and container and square foot gardening processes, were topics included in her presentation. An additional highlight of the meeting was the unveiling of a newly constructed accessible ramp. When a Vo-Ag class at a local high school was invited to participate in a community project for the center, they readily agreed to build an accessible ramp for access to the center's stage. Inetta Fluharty consulted with the group and provided the needed specifications to meet ADA guidelines. She also assisted in securing donated materials for the ramp. Pictured are two People First members from New Martinsville and Elkins using the ramp.

WV AgrA's Inetta Fluharty at Women in Ag Day, Moundsville State PenitentiaryDuring the 6th Annual Women in Agriculture Day held at the Moundsville State Penitentiary, Inetta Fluharty spoke to a full house of 275 women farmers on the topic of "Ergonomics, Women, and the Tools You Use". Pictured is Fluharty during her presentation.

Inetta Fluharty provided disability awareness information to 310 Wood County youth at the Wood County Progressive Farm Safety Days. During the two-day event, Fluharty discussed People First language, explaining the reasons why the term "handicapped" should not be used to describe a person with a disability. She encouraged students to imagine what it would be like to try to build a house using only a screwdriver. She explained what it would be like for an individual with a disability if the person did not have specific assistive technology tools. The students participated in a "hands-on" activity with the objective of viewing various types of assistive technology tools, then identifying the disability for which each tool would be applicable. Students were asked whether an individual with paraplegia could successfully be a teacher, play sports, go to the movies, or be a farmer. They discussed special "tools" which would be needed to help make each activity successful.

Gardening workshop at Five Loaves & Two FishesWV AgrAbility staff recently initiated an instructional program in McDowell County. At the Five Loaves and Two Fishes Food Bank, eight one-hour workshops were conducted during a two day period. Each workshop was attended by 18-20 people. At least half of the attendees had US armed forces veteran status. Each attendee was interested in growing his or her own produce for consumption and/or sales. The workshop topics included:

Rain Barrels and Irrigation
Container and Raised Bed Gardening
Hydroponic Production
Bramble Production
Blueberry Production
Grape Production
Strawberry Production
Fruit Tree Production

The training is part of the Ag Incubation Program that WV AgrAbility staff are creating in conjunction with the WV National Guard and the WV Department of Agriculture. Upon completion, the program will be housed within the Welch Armory in Welch, WV. The armory will serve as a teaching and learning facility where beginning farmers can engage with WV AgrAbility staff to learn how to create an agricultural business of their own. A "high tunnel" is being constructed at the armory. It will house areas focused on various concepts including mushroom cultivation, aeroponic production technology, and a pilot aquaponic system. All of these specialties, as well as other concepts being planned, will become part of hands-on training applications for the program.

As WV AgrAbility develops its following in McDowell County, staff members will discuss the WV AgrAbility program and how it can assist individuals who may be facing limitations due to a disability.

Submitted by Janet Della-Giustina