Naomi King, a Unitarian Universalist minister and daughter of authors Tabitha and Stephen King, moved to Sweden, Maine in 2012 to be closer to her family after her rare muscular disorder started to advance. King, who uses a wheelchair, took the management job at the family-owned farm business.
By February 2013, the challenges of managing a successful, growing mid-size farm began to take a toll.
“I was at the point where I could not work at all here anymore,” King says.
Then King discovered a reference to the National AgrAbility Project online. When she learned there was a Maine program, King contacted Maine AgrAbility Project Coordinator Lani Carlson to determine if the program would apply to her.
Maine AgrAbility, a USDA grant-funded state program helps farmers with chronic health conditions and disabilities gain more control of their lives, continue to farm successfully and live independently. The Maine AgrAbility program is a nonprofit collaboration of University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Goodwill Industries of Northern New England and Alpha One.
Since receiving USDA funding in 2010, Maine AgrAbility has assisted more than 160 Maine farmers who have disabilities by offering services that range from answering agricultural questions, to suggesting ways to adapt tools or work sites, to referring farmers to other local support agencies.
“I was tremendously discouraged and convinced I couldn’t do anything related to the farm anymore,” King says. “So to be able to come to work six days a week is invaluable to me. It gives me a lot of purpose.”
Image Description: Naomi King and Alexandra Tomaso in an apple orchard
The American Council of the Blind of Maine (ACB of Maine) shared an article written by David Perry. David talks about his experiences of gardening with a vision impairment. The article, Low Vision Gardening, shares tips on planning, organizing and being in the garden as well as how and when to ask for assistance.
New England Vegetable and Fruit Conference and Trade Show
Tuesday through Thursday, December 17-19, 2013
Radisson Hotel in Manchester, New Hampshire
The New England Vegetable and Fruit (NEVF) Conference will include more than 25 educational sessions over 3 days, covering major vegetable, berry and tree fruit crops as well as various special topics. A Farmer to Farmer meeting after each morning and afternoon session will bring speakers and farmers together for informal, in-depth discussion on certain issues. There is also an extensive Trade Show with over 100 exhibitors.
The conference is put together with close collaboration between growers and Cooperative Extension from across the region. This is a great opportunity to meet with fellow growers, advisors, researchers, and industry representatives.
For more information and to register, please visit the NEVF Conference website, www.newenglandvfc.org.
Diabetes can affect anyone.
A farmer with diabetes should consider their health needs before starting their daily chores. It’s important to pace work throughout the day considering physical endurance as well as food breaks and maintaining communication with someone else nearby.
Sense of touch and circulation in extremities:
Because blood-sugar levels change in relation to activity level and diet, be sure to always have an established source of communication to summon help if needed ie: intercom system, radio or cell phone. Also make sure someone knows where you are and when you should be done. Additional ideas can be found on the Ohio AgrAbility Fact Sheet: Farming with Diabetes, AEX-982.6-11.
Image Description: Diabetes Awareness Month & World Diabetes Day November 14
This free webinar explores Maine’s mPower Loan Program – offering low interest financing that increases the purchasing power of people with disabilities in Maine.
Jeremy Libby, Independent Living Specialist from Alpha One reviews the mPower Loan Program application process and loan eligibility. The mPower Loan Program was created more than 20 years ago as a revolving fund and hundreds of loans have been made and paid back over the years. The presentation will outline many types of adaptive equipment, assistive technology, vehicles and home access modifications that can be bought using mPower funds.
Complete information on how to register for this webinar may be found on this link to the Maine CITE Training page.
The National AgrAbility Project at Purdue University will host the free webinar to provide an overview of the tasks related to livestock production and to show the relationship between arthritis pain management and those tasks. “Osteoarthritis, Joint Stress and Injury Prevention in Livestock Production” will be on November 19, 2013 at 3 p.m. (EST). Webinar to help livestock producers cope with arthritis
November 9 – 11, 2013 at the Atlantic Oceanside Hotel & Conference Center, Bar Harbor, Maine
62nd Annual Meeting (hosted by Washington-Hancock County Farm Bureau)
Image Description: Photo: In Bar Harbor at the annual Maine Farm Bureau meeting.
The article entitled Swords Into Plowshares discusses Michael O’Gorman’s efforts in establishing the Farmer Veteran Coalition in Davis, CA. The Maine chapter is currently being established to assist veterans in Maine. For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Whether farming is your livelihood or you’re a weekend gardener, the simple fixes listed below can help reduce the stress and wear your body endures while farming to make your work more productive and efficient.
Standing at a work bench for an extended period fixing that broken mower engine?
Find a scrap piece of 4”x4” and use it as a footrest to periodically shift your weight from side-to-side to relieve pressure in your back and knees.
Do you experience back or knee discomfort from bending over/down when planting seeds?
Use a scrap piece of PVC pipe at a length long enough to hold while in an upright, standing position. Straddle your garden rows, push the pipe in to the desired planting depth and simply drop the seed down the pipe.
Weeding young plants in plastic flats?
Don’t bend over to weed the plants; put the flats on a portable table that you can bring to your worksite. This will bring the flats to a height that is comfortable for you to work from.
Washing leafy greens by hand?
Instead of putting stress on your back by bending over and exposing your hands to cold water as you wash, put the greens in a mesh bag and with an erect posture lift the greens out of the water. This will allow you to efficiently wash more greens, reduce the time your hands are exposed to cold water, limit back strain, and reduce the risk of the greens being damaged during the washing process.
Having difficulty gripping a pair of pliers or other small hand tools?
Try a product called Sugru or Model Magic which is a light-weight moldable substance. When applied and cured it can be used to “build up” the handles of small hand tools to provide extra gripping area or comfort. The material can also be used to make a pencil or utensil grips.
One-handed use of a battery/ electric operated drill?
Use a magnetic drill bit which will make one-handed drill operation easier and more efficient.
Need reminders about chore times and other tasks around the farm?
Program a list of chores into your cell phone, smart phone or iPad which can give you an auditory prompt (i.e. beep, ring, chime) as to when necessary tasks need to occur.
Do you have low vision or a vision impairment and are trying to manage farm records on your computer?
Adjust the computer screen’s display to a high contrast theme; enlarge the size of the mouse arrow; or use the on-screen magnifier feature. All these functions come standard on all Windows PCs and can be found under the ‘Ease of Access Center’ section:→ Start Menu; → Control Panel; → Ease of Access Center; → Choose the desired adaptation and its settings.
For more information about ideas that can make your farming experience more productive and less physically demanding, check out the National AgrAbility Program’s Tool Box Assistive Technology Database at http://www.agrability.org/Toolbox/index.cfm.
Image Description: High contrast computer screen display in a Word document
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