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Farming Success Stories

Maine AgrAbility works with a diverse group of farmers to identify barriers and find ways to continue to work successfully.  Below are some success stories we would like to share!

Maine AgrAbility Featured in WABI Report

WABI (Channel 5) reported on Maine AgrAbility, a USDA grant-funded state program that helps farmers with chronic health conditions and disabilities gain more control of their lives, continue to farm successfully and live independently. The program is a nonprofit collaboration of University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Goodwill Industries of Northern New England and Alpha One. The report focused on a farmer in Winterport who was helped by the program. Richard Brzozowski, project director of Maine AgrAbility and a small ruminant and poultry specialist with UMaine Extension, told WABI “You don’t look at the disability part. You think of what they can do; the ability part.”  UMaine Program Helps Farmers with Disabilities



From the Mail Bag:Umaine ExtensionOxford County office, South ParisMaster Gardners feed hungry

Thanks so much for “Oh, My Aching…“! I was sitting here with a sore shoulder and back, wishing I hadn’t been bending over to pull weeds yesterday, when I saw your article. I didn’t know there were women’s tools, and I printed out the pages of stretches too. Not only is the information a big help, but so was the laugh I had reading it! 

            ~Joan Carney, Groaning in Harpswell

Farmer Facing Stamina and Mobility Issues

Stan started farming after a successful career as a building contractor. Today, he runs a diversified farm – raising beef and chickens, a market garden and hay. He approached AgrAbility because of the pain he was experiencing in his legs, hips and lower back, due to arthritis and a back injury from his days in contracting. He wondered what he could do to increase his stamina and improve mobility around the farm.  Read more...

The Importance of Living the Life of Your Dreams 

Che learned about AgrAbility from the Waldo County Cooperative Extension.  AgrAbility worked with Che to validate the potential in her business, encouraging her with her farm enterprise.  We helped problem solve some of her barriers and find ways to accommodate them.  AgrAbility staff helped Che to find and apply for funding resources as well as encouraging her to look to her community for bartering opportunities and services.  Here is a recent blog posted by this goat farmer, bravely and honestly discussing her challenges and successes.

“Yesterday, I was profoundly reminded of the fact that I am living the life that I am meant to live. As a general rule, I haven’t discussed my health publicly in any real detail. However, I often engage in conversations related to my health challenges when the conversation arises. I don’t hide these things and I speak about them often, but I don’t focus on them publicly. Today, I’ve decided to change that rule. I am going to talk about my challenges because doing so will help me talk about my successes.  jeremy-dwarf-goat-4-monthsRead more…

Excerpted and reprinted with permission from:
Che Sweetland
Gentle Meadow Goat Farm
Goat Milk Soap and Lotion


Tip BoardTestimonial

At the 2014 Maine Agricultural Trades Show in Augusta we asked farmers and gardeners to share tips on working safer and smarter.  Oh the responses we got!!

“I would not still be gardening without the garden rocker I learned about last year from Maine AgrAbility display.  My life changed – it’s fantastic!”    -Marcia M. (Monmouth, ME)


Maine AgrAbility worked with Pietree Orchard’s “Business Monkey” to keep her successfully managing the business!

woman in wheelchair and dog getting into van

One of our clients was experiencing isolation due to lack of mobility.  After an AgrAbility assessment, she and her husband were able to purchase a van with a low-interest mPower loan from Alpha One.  Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) paid to adapt the van for wheelchair accessibility and to have part of the gravel driveway paved. Now, she can get around the farm independently and is looking forward to contributing to the farm financially, planning to sell produce, eggs, and meat at local markets and at an on-farm stand.

woman with seedlings in greenhouseMaine AgrAbility worked with a client who was experiencing chronic pain because of arthritis in her knees. She had developed an ambitious business plan incorporating her production greenhouse with a café serving Mexican foods from locally sourced products.  A vocational rehabilitation counselor worked with her to separate the agricultural production plan from the restaurant plan.  Her VR counselor recommended that the greenhouse work be contracted out, and she received financial assistance to get a new commercial kitchen for her café.


tractorWe worked with a dairy farmer who was mauled by a bull in 1992 and who still experiences chronic pain. We conducted a farm tractor seating analysis on several of his tractors. VR funded the purchase of 5 air-cushioned tractor seats to relieve his pain from the vibration due to worn out seats. The AgrAbility report explained that each tractor had a specific use and couldn’t be interchanged, so VR funded all 5 seats.


Take a look at Colorado AgrAbility resources page : AgrAbility – A Program That Works. This is a recent report from the National AgrAbility Project that demonstrates clear successes across the country. Note that as a newly funded program, Maine AgrAbility is not included in this data, but we look forward to adding our work soon!


AgrAbility is funded by the USDA NIFA program. Here is an article posted to the USDA blog recently: AgrAbility Helps Keep Farmers, Ranchers with Disabilities on the Job (2/5/13).