News, Views, and Information about Disability

Disability News, Views, Information, and Literature

Monday, October 27, 2014

Maine Agrability Supports Farmer with Physical and Emotional Disabilities

by Sharon Wachsler

Having experienced the physical and mental healing benefits of working with animals and being outdoors, I'm particularly eager to share the story that WABI TV ran on Winterport goat and chicken farmer, Che Sweetland. Sweetland owns Gentle Meadow Goat Farm.

"UMaine Program Helps Farmers with Disabilities" tells Sweetland's story:

“In 2010, I started having problems with PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety, where I found that I was not choosing to leave my house as much as I should.”
Che Sweetland acquired some chickens as a therapeutic tool. 
“To make it so I had to leave my house once a day to take care of the chickens,” she explains. “And when I realized that my body and my emotions really liked the farming lifestyle, I ended up getting some goats.”
Both the text of the story a video of the news clip are online. (It is not an autoplay; you click on the video player to view or listen to the story.) There are lots of fun sounds and sights of happy chickens and goats, as well as Sweetland's story of creativity and ingenuity in creating a rich life following years of trauma.

The WABI story also shows how the UMaine Cooperative Extension School can help disabled Maine farmers continue farming. Because Sweetland has back and neck issues that were interfering with farmwork, she contacted them and got help setting up an ergonomic milking station and other assistance:
“Maine Agrability is a state-wide program that helps farmers with disabilities or chronic illnesses keeping farming,” explains Richard Brzozowski, an agriculture extension educator. 
It started four years ago through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The idea is to provide those in agriculture as well as future farmers with informational tools. The program is also available to veterans and will soon be reaching out to those in the aquaculture and logging industries.
“You don’t look at the disability part,” explains Brzozowski, “you think of what they can do, the ability part.” 

To view or read the complete story, click here. More information on the Maine Agrability program at or at 800-287-1471. To order goat milk soap, visit Gentle Meadow Goat Farm.

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