NC AgrAbility is currently assisting a farmer with visual impairments who grows vegetables. The farmer is interested in getting either a greenhouse or a high tunnel to better operate and adapt the growing-environment to his disability. In assisting the farmer, the NC AgrAbility project manager and NCA&T high tunnel and greenhouse horticulture specialist, Dr. Gu, provided a training field day for all the people involved in the case.Chatham County horticultural Extension agent Debbie Roos, NC Assistive Technology Director Tammy Koger, consultants Shelby Kennerly, and Gloria Jinks, farmer Cameron Johnson and his wife, Marie, joined the session to learn about greenhouses and high tunnel production, management practices, disease control, extension techniques for growing, and the cost associated with each type of production and the sustainability of each growing system.
NC AgrAbility hosted the eastern and western "Peer Lunch Support" at McCall's Bar-B-Q and Seafood restaurant in Clayton, NC, on August 25, and at Logan's Steakhouse in Statesville, NC, on August 22, respectively. NC AgrAbility farmers enjoyed meeting other farmers and had the opportunity to share their personal experiences. Farmers were updated on the service process and how NCAP is striving for better and faster services by working closer to other institutions and expanding collaborative work.
NC AgrAbility farmer Beverly Bowens shared her experience at the NTW, her connection with other resources, and the way she has been able to benefit from it.
"The Annual AgrAbility Workshop in Knoxville, TN, provided me with a wealth of knowledge on how to effectively function with a disability and the resources that are available for disabled and aging farmers. It was interesting to learn about the many programs available to farmers and military veterans from Farm Service Agency, Rural Development, Vocational Rehabilitation, USDA, Veteran Administration, and companies providing specialized equipment for individuals with disabilities.
I was totally impressed with what disabled individuals and farmers are doing in sustainable agriculture to produce and distribute food with backyard high tunnels, garden plots, and urban gardens. The AgrAbility program is doing an outstanding service in providing disabled/aging farmers and veterans with a quality of life and stewardship - so they may continue to provide for their livelihood, community involvement, and quality of life.
Farm Best Practices:
- Since attending the Workshop I have utilized an FSA (Farm Service Agency) pasture management specialist to complete a diagram layout for a cattle chute and swing gate set up - which has been completed. I'm now working with the manufacturer of the cattle corral set up to purchase additional panels to add a holding area for cattle. Also, through recommendation from an FSA pasture management specialist - I attended the Regional Annual Cattlemen's Association Meeting where I received my BQA (Beef Quality Assurance) Certification and I am now a member of the NC Cattlemen's Association.
- I will be submitting a proposal to NCDA&CS before the June 15 deadline date for funding for signage to advertise and market my produce, water irrigation lines for fields to grow produce and vaccines to provide cattle based on scheduled maintenance requirements - as a cost saving to utilizing a veterinarian.
- I have submitted my application for "got to be NC Agriculture" certification.
- Purchased an aerator tiller and row bedder to improve crop yield through the use of no-till field process.
Involvement at Community Level:
- On May 15, 2017, at the request of Dr. Shirley Hymon-Parker (NC A&T State University) I submitted an email letter to all House and Senate representatives on the NCDA&CS committee - asking them to oppose the decision to eliminate the Small Farms Program for NCDA&CS. The Small Farms Program focuses on supporting small, limited-resource, and minority farm families through designing, developing, and delivering information based on research and outreach efforts; many whom are retirees, veterans, or people who have been farming in rural areas for several generations.
- Assisted individuals in the community with grass planting and sub-soiling of their yards.
Again, the AgrAbility workshop in Knoxville, TN, was absolutely enjoyable and educational and thanks for allowing me the opportunity to attend."
Submitted by Beatriz (Betty) Rodriguez