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June 2018


Congratulations to Tennessee AgrAbility Project (TNAP) PI Tim Prather who was awarded the 30-year service award from University of TN Ag Institute! He is an ag engineer with UT Extension and Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science. His areas of expertise include TN AgrAbility since 1994, farm safety, precision ag, and disaster education. He has worked with adult and youth audiences with solar energy education with GPS and GIS, mentored three 4-H GIS program members that are part of a National GIS team, and presented a health study project to 15,000 people. Tim is an excellent grant writer and has been awarded over $4 million in grants, including continuous funding for TNAP since 1994.

TNAP staff visited a successful local winery with a beginning farmer veteran who has a spinal cord injury. The farmer veteran wanted the experience of seeing a working farm and learned about available USDA resources from TNAP. Soil samples were collected and sent off to determine the feasibility of growing grapes on land that was used to raise beans. After back surgery and recovery this summer, he will continue working on his farm goals.

TNAP and UT Gardens hosted the third Veterans Horticultural Therapy Workshop in Nashville. This six-hour workshop was designed for current military personnel and veterans. Research indicates that exposure to nature and gardening improves mental health outcomes for veterans. This workshop explored the following:

  1. Career options for veterans and opportunities to learn how TN AgrAbility Project can assist veterans.
  2. Hands-on activities that can help assist veterans when starting a career in horticulture/agriculture.
  3. Opportunities to network with other veterans with similar interests.
    More workshops are planned in the fall.

TN AgrAbility is thankful for Farmer Veteran Coalition's new partnership with Tractor Supply Company (TSC)! Special thanks to Michael O'Gorman and Charley Jordan for making the connection with TN TSC and all their efforts to help veterans who want to farm! Five TN Farmers received a $1000 TSC gift card redeemed during a one-day nationwide shopping event on Armed Forces Day, May 19.

Irrigation system at Star FarmEast TN New Farmer Academy focused on fruit and vegetable production. TNAP spoke on various ergonomic tools and the importance of doing tasks in the safest way possible while minimizing the physical impact on the body. They then visited Star Farm where the farmer focuses on vegetables, herbs, and fruits that he sells at various farmers markets. He does most of his production on less than one acre of ground, though he and his family own 20 acres. Last year, he had 20 varieties of heirloom tomatoes on his property, which produced 4000 lbs. of tomatoes for him to sell. They focus on conservation agriculture and small-scale production agriculture. Although they are not certified organic, their production is primarily focused on growing their crops with organic practices. Their irrigation set-up comes from their property's pond. Star Farm keeps deer and other unwanted animals out of the garden using lights and ribbon that makes noise and flutters with the wind.

Submitted by Tennessee AgrAbility Project