Karen operates Heart and Bones Hollow, LLC, a certified naturally grown produce operation in Fluvanna County. A couple of years ago, Karen began experiencing severe, chronic back pain that limited her ability to work on my small vegetable farm.
Karen reached out to AgrAbility Virginia to find out about the resources and support that were available to help her continue to farm while experiencing chronic pain. AgrAbility Virginia conducted an initial site assessment in the winter of 2021 and returned to the farm in Spring with colleagues from the Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS). During these visits, AgrAbility Virginia, along with DARS, were able to make recommendations regarding assistive technologies that would allow Karen to continue to operate her farm. Among these recommendations were:
- Ergonomic tools including a horizontalal handle adaptation for long handled tools. For some examples of ergonomic tools , see our 'Assistive Technologies to Improve Safety & Accessibility on Small Scale Diversified Vegetable Farms & Home Gardens' publication (Mason, Van Peppen, & Niewolny, 2021).
- Anti-fatigue mats made of thick rubber to ease back pain while standing and bending over to wash produce.
- A utility trailer with a dump function that attaches to Karen's walk-behind tiller (pictured above).
AgrAbility was able to help Karen identify and find funding options to purchase the utility cart. Karen has shared that this cart, in particular, has been very helpful: "Now my tractor does the heacy lifting, and I can save my back for other, less strenuous tasks!" Karen was able to use the cart in the winter of 2022 to clean up damage to her property after a winter storm and is looking forward to using it to bring in the tomato crop in the summer of 2022.