Spring 2022 E-Newsletter
Farmer Highlight - James Sturdifen
James is a retired veteran and an urban farmer in Richmond, Virginia who grows collard greens, grapes, and other crops for his community. James has had multiple knee surgeries which have made it difficult for him to kneel and stoop.

When AgrAbility Virginia staff came for a site visit in Spring of 2021, they learned more about James' operation and made recommendations for ergonomic tools. The tools allow him to stand up while working, and reduce kneeling, stooping, and twisting. AgrAbility Virginia is currently working with James to help him identify an appropriate add-on step for his tractor which would allow him to get up and down in an easier and safer way.

We have recently updated our farmer client highlights on our website; James is featured there on his own highlight page. We also filmed an episode of From the Ground Up in partnership with Farm Bureau and VSU in the fall. Watch the segment on YouTube to see James' farm and learn about the tools we often recommend.
What's new with AgrAbility Virginia?
AgrAbility Virginia Recognized at the 2022 Virginia Agriculture & Natural Resources Summit

AgrAbility Virginia Program Director, Dr. Kim Niewolny, spoke during the Virginia Tech Showcase at the 2022 Virginia Agriculture & Natural Resources Summit on April 12th in Short Pump, Virginia. AgrAbility Virginia was recognized for our work on cultivating wellness, safety, and accessibility on the farm through innovations in assistive technology for farmers and growers.

AgrAbility Virginia Field Staff Jeremy Daubert is pictured above at the summit at a round table breakout discussion on the future of agriculture in Virginia.
VSU Mobile Education Laboratory

AgrAbility Virginia is a proud partner on the new Virginia State University Virginia Agriculture Mobile Education Unit!

This mobile education unit is an interactive educational tool that showcases the Commonwealth’s largest private industry, agriculture and forestry, while demonstrating the valuable role it plays in our daily lives. When visitors enter the
unit, they will learn about the remarkable diversity of Virginia’s agriculture, its history, its people, and the latest innovations and career opportunities that are leading us into the future.

Click here to see the brochures for the mobile lab.
Assistive Technology Highlight: Garden Cart for BCS Tiller

Karen Mann worked with AgrAbility Virginia to identify strategies and equipment that would make farming easier and safer for her given her chronic pain. One solution they discovered was the ‘buddy cart’*.

"A couple of years ago I began experiencing severe, chronic back pain that has limited my ability to work on my small vegetable farm. I reached out to AgrAbility Virginia to find out what resources or support are available to help me keep farming and work around my disability. A major part of my work involves handling heavy loads - compost, mulch, harvested produce, etc. I've always managed it with a wheelbarrow or pulled cart, but that became too painful and at times impossible.  AgrAbility Virginia helped me identify and find funding to purchase this dump cart that attaches to my 2-wheeled tractor. Now my tractor does the heavy lifting, and I can save my back for other, less strenuous tasks!"

Read Karen's full testimonial on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

*AgrAbility Virginia does not promote any specific products or businesses.
Staff Highlight: Program Director Kim Niewolny

For the last nine years, Dr. Kim Niewolny has served as the director of the AgrAbility Virginia program. She is an Associate Professor and Extension Specialist at Virginia Tech whose research and outreach programming focuses on food systems-based community development, new farmer sustainability, and farm safety, wellness and accessibility. Kim also serves as director of the Virginia Tech Center for Food Systems and Community Transformation through the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. When not teaching in the classroom or working with farmers and food system partners across the region, Kim enjoys gardening, cooking, food preservation, and raising egg-laying chickens with her family.

An article on the AgrAbility Virginia Program was published in the Virginia Tech Engineer in 2018. You can learn more about our program and hear from Kim there.
The AgrAbility Assistive Technology Fund
AgrAbility Virginia promotes safety, wellness, and accessibility on the farm through education, rehabilitative services, and assistive technology. Easterseals UCP, an AgrAbility Virginia partner agency, organizes the Assistive Technology Fund as an avenue to support this mission.
Follow Us on Social Media for More Frequent Updates
AgrAbility Virginia | Garland Mason, Program Coordinator & Co-Director
540-231-4582 | AgrAbilityVA@vt.edu
AgrAbility Virginia is funded by AgrAbility Project, USDA/NIFA Special Project 2019-2022 (41590-22326) and administered by Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, Easterseals UCP North Carolina/Virginia, Inc. and Virginia Cooperative Extension. Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061, United States; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg, VA, United States.
AgrAbility Virginia Partner Agencies
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