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July 2018


Project Coordinator Lani Carlson met with vocational rehabilitation counselors, job developers, and workforce employment specialists in Bangor and Augusta Maine on June 7th and 12th. She presented AgrAbility program information and held a discussion toward a collaborative effort to identify possible employment opportunities for transition aged youth on farms. An online survey was created and shared with farmers via newsletter, email, and social media outlets. The survey was designed to determine farmer interest in educating youth with disabilities about agriculture employment opportunities through farm tours, interviews, job shadowing, or summer employment opportunities. Staff have had a positive response from farmers so far.

Rogers Farm tourMaine AgrAbility exhibited at three events this month. On June 1-2, staff presented information about proper lifting techniques at the Maine Fiber Frolic in Windsor, ME; a fair focusing on fiber arts and fiber animals with over 80 exhibitors. At the UMaine Cooperative Extension annual sustainable agriculture field day, AgrAbility resources were shared with farmers, graduate students, and faculty during the tour of Rogers Farm in Old Town, ME.

Annual Farm & Homestead DayRon Howard and boy working on container gardeningOn June 23, AgrAbility client Ron Harwood and his wife Melissa shared their ideas and methods of container gardening during the Annual Farm & Homestead Day in Unity, ME.Ron is legally blind and gave two presentations on how he successfully grows vegetables and his methods to make gardening accessible. AgrAbility specialist Ellen Gibson also presented universal design concepts and proper lifting and bending techniques as part of the sessions.

Maine AgrAbility staff have been busy developing and sharing publication resources that may be useful for farmers of any ability. Project Director Richard Brzozowski partnered with four UMaine faculty members to draft farmer skill and knowledge lists for tree fruit growers, small fruit growers, goat producers, and greenhouse growers. Publications can be found here. Additionally, staff are in the process of finalizing a Cheese Maker Self-Assessment Tool for Occupational Health, Safety & Ergonomics. The final publication will be shared next month.

During a recent project evaluation, the lack of AgrAbility project's ability to provide funding for the recommendations given to farm clients was sorely apparent. In response, ME AgrAbility developed a resource called Potential Funding Sources for Agricultural Producers in Maine. This will be shared with clients as a list of possible funding avenues for them to consider.

During the last month, staff have met with their AgrAbility NP partners to discuss activities for the upcoming 12-month no-cost extension. They met with Kate Garland, UMaine Extension Horticulturist, to discuss possible accessible garden design ideas at the UMaine experimental farm in Old Town. Staff also met with a potential farmer seeking ideas for using a greenhouse in helping military veterans learn about greenhouse production.

Submitted by Lani Carlson