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August 2015


Paul Geers collageIn 2012, a car accident broke the fusions in Paul Geer's back, resulting in constant pain today. Paul, who walks with a cane, raises market vegetables and flowers in Kent County at Frozen Creek Floral Farms. Paul contacted Michigan AgrAbility for solutions on how he could continue farming. As hoop house work is more accessible than field work, Michigan AgrAbility encouraged Geer and his partner, Ruth Smiley, to continue shifting their focus from market vegetables to hoop house tomatoes and flowers. Also recommended were wider steps, a platform for the IH 300, a platform lift for the IH 706, which could also be used as a man lift for ladder tasks around the farm, and different carts. Paul's story can be found on the Michigan AgrAbility Facebook page.

Michigan AgrAbility's first short video - Mobility Vehicles - describing possible solutions to common physical impairments faced by farmers and farm workers, has been placed on the Michigan AgrAbility Facebook page. "Mobility Vehicles" discusses topics such as "When would you recommend a 'mobility vehicle' for a farmer? What should I look for in a good 'mobility vehicle'? What tasks can a 'mobility vehicle' do that would be difficult to accomplish without it? Why might a 'mobility vehicle' be better for a farmer than a wheelchair?"

"Connect the Dots" collageWhat do a firehose, a fraternity, and Hot Roddin Zip have to do with each other? "At Michigan AgrAbility a lot of the time it seems we are playing Connect the Dots," said Ned Stoller, Michigan AgrAbility's agricultural assistive technology specialist. This is the story of one farmer's need and how Michigan State University Alpha Gamma Rho TAU Chapter and an anonymous donor met that need. See the story on the Michigan AgrAbility Facebook and You Tube pages.

"I don't have to leave the parlor to get the cows in anymore, said Bob VanDenBerg." Bob wasn't referring to help received from his son, grandson, or farm dog, but to his new crowd gate recommended by Ned Stoller, Michigan AgrAbility, and purchased by Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS). When Stoller, met with Bob and his MRS counselor, he was informed that VanDenBerg had lost his left eye in a farming accident. This visual impairment was causing poor depth perception, which had resulted in many falls and also made walking on rough ground and catching cattle difficult and dangerous. Stoller recommended a crowd gate, which is a moving gate that could be installed in the holding pen behind the milking parlor. The person milking could push a button and move the gate forward. The moving gate would "crowd" the cows forward so they would enter the milking parlor. This crowd gate could allow Bob to bring cows into the milking parlor without climbing the steep ramp from the parlor and walking out into the slippery holding pen. See the video of the gate in use on the Michigan AgrAbility Facebook page.

Submitted by Deb Chester