Presentation file - National AgrAbility Project

Alternative Production
Systems for Farmers
with Disabilities
Local Food and Beyond
Kerri Ebert, Coordinator
Kansas AgrAbility Project
AgrAbility Virtual NTW
December 10, 2013
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• AgrAbility: USDA-sponsored program that assists
farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural workers
with disabilities.
– Partners land grant universities with disability
services organizations
– Currently 20 projects covering 22 states
– National AgrAbility Project: Led by Purdue’s Breaking
New Ground Resource Center. Partners include:
Goodwill of the Finger Lakes
The Arthritis Foundation, Heartland Region
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Colorado State University
– More information available at
Alternative Production
Systems for Farmers
with Disabilities
Local Food and Beyond
Kerri Ebert, Coordinator
Kansas AgrAbility Project
AgrAbility Virtual NTW
December 10, 2013
Learning Objectives
1. Learn about small scale and
alternative ag production methods
2. See examples of small scale and
alternative production methods used
in Kansas
3. Discuss possibilities for your states
and identify resources
Why this topic at this time?
• United States Department of Agriculture
Economic Research Service (USDA ERS)
– January 2013
– Food Insecurity Among Households With
Working-Age Adults With Disabilities
• There is a strong association between disability and
food insecurity
• 33.5% of households with an adult who is not in the
workforce because of disability are food insecure
Why this topic at this time?
• Veterans
– Gulf Wars I and II have resulted in 1.6 million veterans who
fought for America and survived.
– Approximately 10% of post-9/11 veterans are officially
classified as disabled.
– About 45% of veterans are seeking disability benefits from the
Veterans Affairs (VA) Department.
– 3.5 million = total number of veterans with a serviceconnected disability
– The unemployment rate for Gulf War I and II veterans hovers
around 9%; some sources put it closer to 20%
Total population of veterans is >21.5
million; 1.6 million of whom are female.
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Why this topic at this time?
Enthusiasm for
farming among
young adults
(college age) and
older Americans
who “want” to
We Need More Farmers!
• Local Food Movement
– Consumer driven
– Opens new market opportunities for farmers
– Increases demand for new farmers
• Self Employment can be an excellent opportunity for
people with disabilities
• Farming can be therapeutic for returning veterans
In Kansas we don’t have enough fresh produce to meet
consumer demand at our largest farmer’s markets.
Small Scale Ag &
Alternative Crops
• The Worldwatch Institute*: A move from
industrial farming towards local food projects is
our healthiest, most sustainable choice.
• Food waste – another reason for more local
growers. Conservative estimate of food waste in
the U.S. is ¼ of all food produced.
Prepared and not eaten
Damaged in transport
Unsold fresh produce in stores
*State of the World Report 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet
We Need More Farmers to
Grow Fresh Produce!
• Can we (AgrAbility) help bridge the gaps
– Americans with disabilities and food security
– AgrAbility customers and increased local food
– Needs of our returning veterans; many of whom
were raised in rural areas.
In fact, we’ve already started.
So let’s look at some types of alternative
food production and niche markets that can
and do work for people with disabilities.
Because small-scale farming is an excellent
self employment option and doesn’t take a
huge start-up investment!
Small Scale/Alternative Options
• Traditional Fruits
– Tree fruits (apples, peaches, pears, cherries)
– Bramble fruits (blackberries, raspberries)
– Small fruits (blueberries, strawberries, grapes)
• Specialty Fruits
Figs (growing zones 6-9)
Elderberries (growing zones 4-8)
Currants (growing zones 3-7)
Kiwi (growing zones 5-8)
• Herbs – culinary and medicinal
Small Scale/Alternative Options
• Traditional Vegetables
– Tomatoes
– Peppers
– Squash
• Specialty Vegetables
– Miniature and/or colored anything
• Yellow or purple carrots; 8-ball zucchini; yellow beets
– Ethnic vegetables – varies by location and local
ethnic population
• Bok Choy and other Choys
• Chinese cabbage
• Specialty peppers
Source: USDA, Alternative Crops & Enterprises for Small Farm Diversification
Small Scale/Alternative Options
• Animals (protein)
– Game-related: buffalo, deer, fish bait,
pheasant, quail
– Minor Breeds: goats, sheep, rabbits
– Poultry: chickens, ducks, geese
– Aquaculture: tilapia, shrimp
Conventional OR
It’s up to the producer and the consumer
Source: USDA, Alternative Crops & Enterprises for Small Farm Diversification
Let’s take a virtual
farm tour for our
virtual training
Examples – Niche Markets
Green beans in
north central
Source: Kansas SARE
Examples – Niche Markets
Chestnuts in
northeast Kansas
Source: Kansas SARE
Examples – Niche Markets
Left: rotationally grazed, heritage bred turkeys
Right: Brooder house for chickens made from
pickup toppers and straw bales
Source: Kansas AgrAbility Project
Mineral tubs and 5-gallon buckets
as raised beds with a small hoop
houses for season extension
Source: Kansas AgrAbility Project
Garden plot donated to local ILC
by a farm implement dealer.
Source: Kansas AgrAbility Project
Garden plots on vacant lots in
Kansas City, Kansas. Lower left
photo is experimental “slot
farming” technique; uses and
edger to create slot for seed and
existing crab grass as the mulch.
Source: Kansas SARE
Recycled totes as raised
beds; even winterized
raised beds
with the hoop structure.
Source: Kansas AgrAbility Project
of a
Source: Kansas AgrAbility Project
Minimal equipment investment: PVC /
2X4 frame, recycled billboard
used as a cover.
Source: Kansas SARE
High tunnels
offer high
potential for
Notice how
much is
planted in such
a small area
and the use of
containers with
Source: Kansas SARE
What’s a Hoop House?
High tunnels, or hoop houses, are unheated greenhouses that can help extend the
growing season and improve the profitability and productivity of their farms.
High tunnels are also an integral part of local food production systems in many parts of
the United States. They aid fruit and vegetable crop production by extending the cropping
season, providing protection from the elements (wind, storms, heat, etc.), and result in a
more-stable production system that poses less risk of crop failure.
High tunnels come in many different shapes, sizes, and structures. Many 4-season tunnels
are as small as 1000 sq ft for, and 3-season tunnels (plastic is removed during winter) can
span ranges up to 20+ acres.
Hoop houses as therapy – constructing and
growing -- Fort Riley, Kansas, mTBI Clinic.
Source: Kansas AgrAbility Project
United States Department of
Agriculture (USDA) –
– Alternative Farming Systems Information
– National Agricultural Library
• Alternative Crops & Enterprises for Small Farm
– Start2Farm,
– Farm Service Agency,
For Veterans
– Information for Veterans
– Farmer Veteran Coalition,
• Veteran Careers in Agriculture: A Resource Guide,
AgrAbility featured on Page 31
– Combat Boots to Cowboy Boots,
• Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, Curtis, NE
– 100 Beef Cow Advantage Program
– 100 Acre Farm Advantage Program
• ATTRA – National Sustainable Agriculture
Information Center
• Sustainable Agriculture Research and
Education (SARE)
• eXtension (virtual Extension office)
Local Resources
• USDA County Offices
– Farm Service Agency (FSA)
– Rural Development (RD)
– Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
• County/Area Extension Offices
– Master Gardener Programs
– Community Garden Program
– Farmers Market Information
Local Resources
• State Department of Agriculture
• State SARE Coordinator
• State Commission/Department of Veterans
• Small Business Development Centers
• State Farm Organizations
– Farmers Union
– Small / Sustainable Farmers Associations
Kerri Ebert
Kansas AgrAbility Project
[email protected]
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