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April 2020


Hope all the AgrAbility family and clients stay safe at home and healthy! Like the rest of the world in crisis from the COVID-19 pandemic, Tennessee AgrAbility is working remotely and has modified their normal working conditions to prioritize the health and safety of the employees and community it serves. TNAP continues taking phone calls and emails. Staff are staying flexible, eager to provide education in alternative formats and delivery methods. TNAP is staying positive and trying to see the silver lining in this pandemic by using time wisely to catch up on all the tasks that get pushed down the priority list in overscheduled, busy lives. Staff are making phone calls to clients with disabilities who are most at risk with compromised immune systems. TNAP has shared several AgriSafe network educational trainings plus NAP webinars. They will continue sharing information and webinars on the TN AgrAbility Facebook page. Please keep sharing any relevant webinars with National AgrAbility or with us and TNAP will post them. Stay safe. Keep positive thoughts and prayers going.

Before social distancing started, TNAP presented at the March 13 East TN New Farmer Academy. There were 23 attendees 16 of whom were veterans or their spouses. The first class is "Who is Who" in the local USDA and TN ag resources for beginning farmers. All veterans were encouraged to become members of the Farmer Veteran Coalition and were told about AgrAbility services.

In early March, a series of large tornadoes tore through West and Middle TN with most of the damage in the Nashville and Cookeville areas and many deaths. TSU reported that there was roughly $20 million in damage to the TN State University main campus and farm as a result of the recent tornadoes, but no loss of life because campus was on spring break. TN New Farmer Academy was scheduled to start March 16 and had over 50 registered with the West TN New Farmer Academy scheduled later. Currently scheduled meetings of all three New Farmer Academies are postponed until it is safe to meet again. All Extension face-to-face meetings are suspended until April 30 due to public health concerns.

Do you have 20/20 vision when it comes to agriculture safety? TNAP supported Agriculture Safety Awareness Program (ASAP) week, which was March 1 - 7, 2020! Staff promoted safe and healthy practices on farms with educational sessions that were scheduled for each day of the ASAP week. ASAP is part of the American Farm Bureau's Health and Safety Network of professionals who share an interest in identifying and decreasing safety and health risks. This year's ASAP program theme 20/20 Vision on Ag Safety reminds us that it is everyone's responsibility to prioritize safety on the farm. AFBF President Zippy Duvall wrote in a Zipline column about mental health: "If more of us acknowledge it's a problem-and there is no shame in admitting it-then we can begin to help ourselves and each other."

Next time you go to Memphis, TN, staff suggest you visit one of TNAP's friends, Alpha Omega Veteran Services (AOVS) Urban Farm. TN AgrAbility has been working with AOVS Urban Farm in Memphis thru partners with Farmer Veteran Coalition of TN. In addition to the main farm, this project is developing a one-acre "wellness garden" on the grounds. The wellness garden seeks to meet the therapeutic needs of clients by offering sensory-engaging experiences such as a water feature and additional horticultural therapy opportunities. TNAP is helping AOVS organize a veterans' horticulture therapy workshop June 13 with UT Gardens Horticultural Therapist Derrick Stowell. Derrick hopes the program encourages interested veterans to become involved with their organization by sharing knowledge about the therapeutic benefits of working in horticulture or agriculture and by sharing AgrAbility services that are offered. One piece of good news is that AOVS Urban Farm sold out in five minutes at the most recent farmers' market. Please find a local farmer to support either through a community supported agriculture (CSA) group or a farmers market.

Tennessee's first grain bin safety and rescue class was held March 7 in Carroll County, West Tennessee. This event was sponsored by: UT Extension - Carroll County; Tennessee Association of Rescue Squads T.A.R.S.; Carroll Co. Emergency Management; Carroll Co. Fire Department; TN AgrAbility; West Carroll FFA; and Renfroe Farms. Pioneer and Espey Gin purchased four Turtle Rescue Tubes to be distributed throughout the county.

Submitted by Tennessee AgrAbility Project