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March 2019

West Virginia

West Virginia AgrAbility provided safety and health training for the pesticide applicators recertification training session. This session was provided for the West Virginia Nursery and Landscape Association which highlighted respirator safety and hearing conservation.

People First Members waiting for beginning of House legislative sessionWest Virginia AgrAbility was represented at Disability Advocacy Day along with 11 People First Gardening Club members. These People First Gardening Club members have been working on growing their own produce to supplement their food budget as well as entertaining the possibility of developing a co-op for future sales. While at the state capital, the People First members spoke to several legislators about the impact several pieces of proposed legislation would have on individuals with disabilities and the needed supports which allows individuals to live and work in the communities of their choice. Read about the Fair Shake Network here.

For 15 years, the West Virginia Small Farm Center with WVU Extension Service has offered the most authentic and inclusive view of agricultural opportunities for West Virginia small farm families. Annually, the Small Farm Conference boasts a variety of useful topics, unique events, and informative speakers, across more than 110 sessions. One of the highlights of the conference is the locally sourced food provided to the kitchen staff for all of the conference meals.

Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt stated, "West Virginia agriculture is unique to what we typically think of when it comes to farming in the United States. We do not have numerous large farming operations as we lead the nation in small, family-owned farms. Given our topography, our farmers have to be looking for new, cutting edge innovations and ideas in order to grow their operations."

Commissioner Leonhardt continued to say, "If we are to expand the impact of West Virginia agriculture, it will start with entrepreneurs. This conference allows folks to meet and discuss best practices, as well as obtain trainings and certifications. If you have any interest in agriculture, this is the conference for you."

During the Small Farm Conference, WV AgrAbility provided an informational display on services offered, video demonstrations of various pieces of assistive technology and modifications of agriculture equipment, demonstrations on the proper method for applying foam ear plugs, and education on noise levels. FFA members from around the state learned how to use a decibel meter and tested the noise levels of a normal conversation and a busy exhibit hall. Conference attendees were particularly interested in the many assistive technology devices the West Virginia Assistive Technology Center brought for demonstrations.

In conjunction with the Small Farm Conference, the Winter Blues Farmers Market was held. Vendors sold everything from just-bottled maple syrup to heirloom popcorn, farm-fresh eggs to goat milk soap. Producers also sold fresh vegetables grown in greenhouses and high tunnels in the middle of winter. Conference attendees participated in a popcorn tasting contest where local varieties were featured.

WV AgrAbility display at Patriot Guardens WorkshopWest Virginia State University hosted an AgrAbility farm safety workshop in partnership with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the West Virginia National Guard Patriot Guardens program. This workshop highlighted AgrAbility services and how assistive technology and modifications to the workspace or existing equipment enables farmers to remain actively engaged in the agri-business of their choice while decreasing the risk for secondary injuries. Participants learned how West Virginia AgrAbility assists farmers who have physical or cognitive limitations to overcome new and unfamiliar barriers, allowing them to continue in their chosen agriculture-related profession.

Patriot Guardens combines agriculture, job training, economic development, and substance abuse treatment, and is aimed at helping West Virginians - particularly veterans and guardsmen - build agriculture businesses.

Spring is just around the corner, and for many, that means it is a time to get into the garden. That may be easy for some, but for others every year brings new challenges. Finding ways to make gardening accessible for all is one mission of West Virginia AgrAbility.

West Virginia AgrAbility assists individuals who have physical or cognitive limitations find ways to overcome new and unfamiliar barriers, allowing them to continue in their chosen agriculture related professions. It is WV AgrAbility's belief that individuals with disabilities can attain or maintain independence by making informed decisions about how they want to live and work.

Inetta Fluharty, WV AgrAbility, next to a Garden Scoot at the "For the Love of Gardening" workshopDuring the "For the Love of Gardening" workshop, participants had the opportunity to look at why ergonomics and body mechanics are important in reducing the risk for injury while exploring various tools to see why that tool may or may not be a good fit for the individual and the task being completed. Participants also were shown various modifications of equipment and how assistive technology enables individuals to remain actively engaged in the agri-business of their choice while decreasing the risk for secondary injuries.

A complete article on the workshop can be read by clicking here.

Submitted by Inetta Fluharty