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Vermont AgrAbility Program Updates

January 16, 2014

Hello everyone,

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself and pass along a few program updates and recent changes to the Vermont AgrAbility Program.

I am Geoff Whitchurch. The UVM Extension Vermont AgrAbility Program hired me in early December as the Education and Outreach Coordinator.

About Vermont AgrAbility:

The Vermont AgrAbility Project is a sub-unit of a larger National program designed to help farmers and agricultural workers with chronic health conditions gain more control over their lives, continue to farm successfully, and live independently. We offer education, assistance, facilitate farm modifications, and assist in finding funding sources.

A couple quick, select examples of past projects: We found funding for the fabrication and installation of a lower step on a tractor to help a farmer with arthritis get up on his tractors more easily. We have found funding for the fabrication of a hand clutch for a farmer with an amputation and a farmer with arthritis. We had retractable stairs designed and built with a handrail and counter-weight to accommodate a farmer with M.S.

We are currently working toward solutions with a farmer with A.L.S., another with mental challenges, and another with a possible sleep disorder, among others.

Our goal is to help farmers experiencing any physical or mental hardship find solutions to help them continue farming comfortably and productively. Our services are free. We make farm visits to determine type of need. The Vermont AgrAbility Project neither offers nor guarantees funding for these projects. But, we can help find funding, usually through such agencies as Vermont Center for Independent Living, and Vocational Rehab. We are a state-wide program so please help us find farmers and help farmers find us!

Vermont Farm Show:

We are gearing up for the 2014 Vermont Farm Show. The show will be at the Champlain Valley Expo in Essex Junction from January 28th to January 30th. Open 9 to 5pm on Tuesday / 9 to 7pm on Wednesday / and 9 to 4pm on Thursday. We are sharing a booth space with ROPS (Rebates for Rollbars), and we will have a VT Health Connect Navigator with us. Please stop by and say hi and get more information.

More about ROPS:

7 out of 10 farms are out of business within a year after a tractor rollover. So, it makes sense to protect yourself, your family, and your business. Rollover Protective Structures (ROPS) are 99% effective in preventing rollover deaths and serious injuries. Outfitting your older model tractors with ROPS can greatly increase your chances for future success following a rollover accident. The ROPS program can fund 70% (up to $865) on costs toward retrofitting your tractor with a rollover protective structure. All it takes is a phone call or email with your tractor make and model and we will do the rest. In Lamoille County, Vermont, ROPS can fund 100% of the cost. Contact a ROPS agent: 1-877-767-7748 or on the web at

Please, Like Us, Follow Us, Tweet Us, and stay connected with Vermont AgrAbility on our social media outlets or my contact info found at the end of this post.

Please contact me if you have any ideas, questions, or if you are or know a farmer or other agricultural worker who may need our services. I am happy to make site visits!

Thank you!


Geoffrey Whitchurch
AgrAbility Outreach Coordinator
University of Vermont Extension
29 Sunset Drive, Suite 2
Morrisville, VT 05661
802.888.4972 ext. 403
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