NC AgrAbility Partnership participated as an exhibitor at the 2020 Southern Farm Show in Raleigh, NC, on February 25-27. The SFS included over 400 exhibiting companies, making this event one of the largest agricultural expositions in the Carolinas and Virginia. Thousands of farmers, educators, and other stakeholders attended the show. NC AgrAbility provided information about the program, how to enroll for direct services, and how to use ergonomic tools that help farmers and gardeners to stay safe while enjoying the work outdoors. NC AgrAbility's partner, NC Agromedicine Institute (NCAI), had a couple of booths at the SFS exhibiting information about safety in agriculture and preventing accidents, mostly while working in grain bins and on tractors. In addition, NCAI provided screenings for blood pressure and glucose and information on how to protect from various stressors at the farm.
On February 8, NC AgrAbility Partnership participated as an exhibitor at the 2020 NC Agritunity Conference in Statesville, NC. Over 270 participants were able to receive information about the program and how to refer themselves or others to the program. They also received informational booklets on how to farm with arthritis and back injuries and how to sign up to be included on the NC AgrAbility listserv.
NC AgrAbility Partnership was one of the exhibitors at the 2020 Small Farms Opportunities in Franklin County on February 8. More than 150 farmers attended the event to learn more about the production of different commodities, composting, and more. Participants also had the chance to interact with the various exhibitors and learn about beekeeping, alternative feed for poultry, seed exchange, and NC AgrAbility among other topics. Several farmers identified with having some limitations while farming and wanted to receive further information from AgrAbility. Several farmers registered to the NC AgrAbility listserv.
NC AgrAbility started a collaborative work with Dr. Jason Ward, professor of analytical methods in engineering design at NC State University. Beatriz Rodriguez, NC AgrAbility project manager, presented a lecture February 19 about working with farmers with disabilities. Dr. Ward and his students will be working in designing tools to help farmers with disabilities overcome limitations in their daily farming activities.
NC AgrAbility farmer Suzanne Ramsey has received direct services from NC AgrAbility, but she was not eligible to receive financial services from Vocational Rehabilitation. NC AgrAbility has been trying to put together other financial resources to help her acquire the assistive technology recommended. Subsequently, Mrs. Ramsey applied to the AgVentures Grant offered by NCSU and was awarded with $8,000 for the purchase of an ATV. Mrs. Ramsey will greatly benefit from using an ATV, which will facilitate mobility around the farm, as well as carrying, dumping, and moving supplies, plants, and harvested products without having to get in and out of the ATV.
On February 24 and 25, NC AgrAbility participated as a presenter at the 2020 NC AgriShop Series at the Watauga County and Madison County Cooperative Extension offices. The events were attended by about 45 farmers who learned about production in high tunnels, plasticulture, pollinators, food safety, livestock production, and managing disabilities in agriculture. Farmers registered to the NC AgrAbility listserv to receive more information about disabilities and farming.
NC AgrAbility attended the Community Garden Workshop February 29 and had a chance to talk about how to prevent injuries while farming and gardening. Staff also explained the benefits of learning about body mechanics and the use of ergonomic tools. About 25 community leaders attended this event. One Latino farmer was interested in learning more about NC AgrAbility's direct services.
Submitted by Beatriz (Betty) Rodriguez