AgrAbility Virginia continues serving farmers during pandemic

Salem, VA: AgrAbility Virginia has been supporting Virginia farmers for 17 years and is announcing its continued services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, AgrAbility Virginia experienced a reorganization, gaining stronger partnerships with Virginia Cooperative Extension and Virginia State University in addition to established stakeholders, Easterseals UCP and Virginia Tech. A more diverse staff includes representatives from all partner organizations with expertise including military veteran support, dairy industry management, and beginning farmer training.

“One way that AgrAbility Virginia supports farmers is by identifying assistive technologies, such as this rolling garden cart and work seat mobility aid, that can increase farmer safety and productivity.”

Program Director Kim Niewolny said, “We at AgrAbility Virginia understand that farmers and food system workers are particularly vulnerable to the stressors introduced by the pandemic. We are here to support farmers as they face distinct challenges during this time. Our team remains committed to ensuring service to Virginia farmers and farm workers in ways that protect both our clients and staff.”

AgrAbility Virginia offers statewide support services to a wide diversity of farmers across all farming communities. Services include educational resources and trainings, disability advocacy, as well as identification of assistive technologies and funding sources. Clients include small and mid-size farms, rural and urban settings, beginning farmers, and socially disadvantaged farmers. Common conditions AgrAbility Virginia staff help address include arthritis, back impairments, brain injury, stroke, visual impairments, and stress or anxiety. If you or someone you know could benefit from AgrAbility Virginia services, please contact Garland Mason, AgrAbility Program Coordinator, at 540.231.4582 or AgrAbilityVA@vt.edu

In March, AgrAbility Virginia announced continued service to the agriculture community in compliance with Governor Northam’s stay-at-home and social distancing orders. As safety precautions and policies are established, AgrAbility Virginia field staff are now able to continue on-farm visits. These visits allow staff to gain a fuller understanding of farm operations and what impact the illness, injury, or disability may have. New safety precautions include maintaining 6 feet between all staff and clients, wearing masks, and rescheduling visits if any symptoms are present.

AgrAbility Virginia has also launched a new website, brochure, and social media accounts as part of the long-term marketing plan. Please visit www.agrabilityvirginia.org and follow @AgrAbilityVA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more information and resources. If you would like brochures for your facility or office, please email elizabeth.dobson@eastersealsucp.com.

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