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May 2018


Mark FlemingOn January 15, 2017, Mr. Fleming's life changed. Mr. Fleming, a livestock/small ruminant producer in Fayette County, suffered a stroke that left him with limitations in farm work. One obstacle he encountered was lifting heavy objects, such as feed bags. But the work of a farmer never stops; his livestock had to be fed, even if it meant unloading feed bags from his truck and carrying them to the feed room.

To help reduce the risk of secondary injuries and another stroke, Tennessee AgrAbility staff, with the help of suggestions from AgrAbility co-workers, proposed a portable feed bin. Mr. Fleming can now have feed loaded in the bin at the feed store and then transport it back to his farm, eliminating the need to unload and carry feed bags from his truck to the feed room.

Funds for the portable feed bin came from Tennessee Farmers' Cooperative, Tennessee Agricultural Production Association, Farm Bureau Health Plans, Green Plains Obion, LLC, and UT TSU Extension staff who participated in the TN AgRUNAbility 5K/2 mi WALK.

Mike & Stephanie TrostAn update on Mike and Stephanie Trost, beginning farmer veterans and TNAP clients. Stephanie said, "After 6 long years from injury to recovery, Pokeadot Hops and Garden is well under way! Our Hop yard infrastructure is being installed today! Tennessee AgrAbility has been with us every step of the way! They are way ahead of schedule. Taking classes at Arcadia Farms too." Thank you Trosts! Exciting times at Pokeadot Hops and Garden and TN AgrAbility is happy to be a small part. Follow their Facebook page "Pokeadot Hops and Garden" for ups and downs of beginning farmer veterans hard at work and funny stories from life as an amputee.

Tennessee New Farmer Academy expanded to West Tennessee (Memphis) with the first class being held in April with 25 participants. Finis Stribling, TN State University Extension area specialist and one of TNAP's project directors, started the Tennessee New Farmer Academy in Middle Tennessee in 2014, and expanded the program to Middle TN in 2017, and it became a statewide program in 2018. TNAP awarded farmers with disabilities scholarships for classes as needed. TNAP staff presented at the 2nd class of East TN New Farmer Academy on reducing risks with farming and some commonly recommended assistive technology. Thank you to Ned Stoller, Michigan AgrAbility Project, for the PowerPoint "Save Time and Money."

Five Tennessee farmer veterans received Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC) Fellowship Funds! BIG THANK YOU to FVC and the generous Fellowship Fund supporters for making this possible. TNAP client Dameon Berry, cattle farmer, beginning farmer veteran, and quadriplegic from Maynardville, TN, was awarded $5000 towards a cattle sweep tub and alley to help reduce secondary injuries when feeding his cattle. TNAP staff continue their work on locating funds for a tractor lift and making his tractor accessible.

Brian Gottschall from Orlinda, TN, attended one of TNAP's beginning farmer workshops and learned about the UT MANAGE program. He was awarded $2000 for a rototiller from FVC Fellowship Fund. Hidden Haven Farm joined the Farmer Veteran Coalition last year. When Brian began to apply for the FVC Fellowship grant, he was woefully unprepared and had little idea how to incorporate his dreams into a written business plan for the application process. "With help from some of the folks at the University of Tennessee Extension, we applied and are blessed to have been one of those chosen to receive a FVC grant to purchase needed equipment. We are very grateful to the assistance given by the UT Extension folks, FVC for coordinating the fellowship grant, and, most importantly, to God for His provision," said Brian.

TNAP exhibited at the beef trade show at the Southeast TN Beef Summit in Athens, TN, with 300 cattle farmers. TNAP highlighted the NAP's Toolbox Assistive Technology Database and some popular cattle-farmers-with-disabilities assistive technology: a calf table and bump n' drive gate. The keynote speaker for the summit was Jennifer Houston, president-elect of NCBA. Check out the revamped "BEEF. It's What's for Dinner" social media campaign here.

TNAP exhibited and networked at the 3rd Joint Operation, a free event for veterans that serves as a one-stop shop for veterans to access local resources and services. If you or someone you know needs help, now is the time to reach out! Farmer-specific resources can be found online at NAP's website and at the TN Extension website.

Submitted by Tennessee AgrAbility Project (TNAP)