2018 AgrAbility National Training Workshop, March 19-22, 2018, Portland, Maine

Portland skyline at nightJoin us in Portland, Maine on March 19-22, 2018 for the AgrAbility National Training Workshop, the premier training event addressing issues of disability in agriculture. Professionals and consumers from all over the country will participate in four days of plenary sessions, breakouts, tours, networking, and special events. For complete information and to register, visit the 2018 AgrAbility National Training Workshop website.

What’s happening with Maine AgrAbility?

December 2017

Richard Brzozowski shared program information with the Cooperative Extension home horticulture leadership group of Master Gardeners, educators, and home gardeners. He shared resources such as the PAW, a power-assisted wheelbarrow (goo.gl/kPe0GK).


Cooperative Extension and the Maine Beginning Farmers Resource Network, with funding from NESARE, presented a day-long workshop about supporting relationships for farm success. Three AgrAbility staff attended along with statewide ag service providers, learning new ways to support the diverse needs of Maine farmers, and focusing on those in the first ten years of production.


Lani Carlson attended the draft design review of Cultivating Community’s incubator farm and farmer training program funded through a BFRDP from USDA. Maine AgrAbility is one of several partners with Cultivating Community on this project along with the Somali Bantu Community Mutual Assistance Association of Lewiston-Auburn, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Maine Farmland Trust, Community Financial Literacy, and Coastal Enterprises Inc. (http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/30/usda-grant-to-help-farmers/)

Cultivating Community receives a nearly $600,000 federal grant to assist Maine farmers

Cultivating Community is the recipient of a Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The money will be used for land access, help with product diversification and market access, and to provide training to new Americans, veterans and other small-scale producers. Cultivating Community’s partners on the project are the Maine AgrAbility Program, the Somali Bantu Community Mutual Assistance Association of Lewiston-Auburn, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Maine Farmland Trust, Community Financial Literacy and Coastal Enterprises Inc. Read more in the Portland Press Herald.

New England Vegetable and Fruit Conference – December 12-14, 2017

New England Vegetable and Fruit Conference and Trade Show
Tuesday through Thursday, December 12-14, 2017
Radisson Hotel in Manchester, New Hampshire

The New England Vegetable and Fruit (NEVF) Conference will include more than 30 educational sessions over 3 days, covering major vegetable, berry and tree fruit crops as well as various special grower topics. Farmer-to-Farmer meetings throughout the conference will bring speakers and farmers together for informal, in-depth discussion on specific issues. There is also an extensive Trade Show with over 120 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, newenglandvfc.org.

Mission Island Elder Care Conference

Maine AgrAbility is happy to be taking part in the Annual Mission Island Elder Care Conference.  AgrAbility collaborators from Alpha One an Maine Cite will be presenting information about technology for elders and their caregivers.

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Safety Messages & Signs

Information provided by the Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention and Education, written by  Nykole Kafka Vance, MS, CEP, CHES

Many safety messages use the words Caution, Warning and Danger. Each sign has a color assigned to it to get your attention. There are universally accepted colors associated with each sign: caution signs are yellow, warning signs are orange and danger signs are red. Following are safety messages and their meanings, each of these signs will have a written message, and perhaps a picture, about an unsafe condition.

♦♦♦♦  CAUTION means you need to be careful. Follow the directions on the sign or you could get hurt.

♦♦♦♦  WARNING is more serious and means you need to follow the directions on the sign or you could be badly hurt or killed.

♦♦♦♦  DANGER is the most serious safety message. If you don’t follow the directions, you will be seriously injured or killed.

Manufacturers put important safety messages on tractors, machinery, and chemicals. You can also find them in the operator’s manual. It is critical to read, understand and follow safety messages.

What’s happening with Maine AgrAbility?

On August 22, Maine AgrAbility presented AgrAbility program information to 32 veteran beginning farmers . The farmers were participating in the Armed to Farm training.  The United Farmer Veterans of Maine hosted the week long event.

AgrAbility staffed an educational display at Maine Farm Days in Clinton, on August 23-24 at Misty Meadows Farm.  This event gives the public and farmers an opportunity to visit a working farm, see the operation of new equipment and technology.  there were over 50 service providers and vendors at this event.
Project Director Richard Brzozowski distributed the newly published impact publication about AgrAbility to the 30 attendees at the August 2017 Agricultural Council of Maine (AGCOM) meeting. He also reported to AGCOM that AgrAbility was involved in a short presentation at the Armed to Farm course.

For AgrAbility activities from across the nation, check out: http://news.agrability.org/2017/09/enote.html

Tractor Tire Inflation Safety

After a tragic accident in Cumberland County, PA, we are reminded about the importance of safety precautions when working on equipment. When working on tractor and equipment tires be sure to check for cracks and improper installation before inflating. Be aware of the proper tire pressure and have an accurate tire pressure gauge on hand when inflating tires. This slow motion video shows what happens when tires are over-inflated. It may be beneficial for your crew to write the appropriate tire pressure on all tires with a paint marker.

As a way to increase general farm shop safety, this farm shop safety checklist is a good resource for keeping track of equipment and tasks that need attention. Having good communication systems for reporting issues about needed farm equipment maintenance and malfunctions is essential in reducing safety risks and avoiding accidents.

Beginning Farmer Connections

From the MOFGA Bulletin Board 7/20/2017

What’s happening with Maine AgrAbility?

Ellen Gibson sharing at the Maine Fiber FrolicMaine AgrAbility staffer Ellen Gibson had a booth sharing program literature and resources to networks connections at the Maine Fiber Frolic, a two-day fair specializing in fiber and fiber animals in Windsor, Maine. The display focus was arthritis and hand strength. An OT student helped administer a survey on health issues that was collected and has also been offered online. Results will be shared in an article in the coming weeks.


Maine AgrAbility at Maine Farm & Homestead DayMaine AgrAbility presented a workshop in Union, Maine, at the Maine Farm & Homestead Day, on vertical gardening and accessible gardening. Participants learned how to construct a sturdy garden trellis in three sections. They also had an opportunity to try out ergonomic gardening tools, receive handouts about services, and harvest lettuce from a raised bed.


Staff participated in a bimonthly beginning farmer resource-providers network meeting at Wolfe’s Neck Farm in Freeport, Maine. The meeting ended with a tour of a new dairy farm facility’s portable milking equipment – a Dairystar MobiStar hydraulic milking parlor. It’s an interesting concept that wasn’t as “portable” as anticipated.


Lani Carlson joined several other AgrAbility state programs at the 2017 ISASH conference in Logan, Utah. Agricultural safety and health information was presented from national and international sources. Staff hope to develop state-specific farm safety programming in Maine from some of the excellent ideas, posters, and presentations.