Tools

AgrAbility Program Helping Farmers Keep Working

By Brittany Patterson
By bpatterson@wbbjtv.com

Here in West Tennessee, it has been said that farming runs in the blood. But when a disability gets in the way, AgrAbility helps farmers get back to work.

Carl Ragsdale grew up with a love for the farm.

"Everybody's meant to be something, and I know that's where I'm meant to be," said Ragsdale.

But two years ago, Ragsdale was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson's Disease, a disease doctors told him could end his career.

"I was broken-hearted and depressed," said Ragsdale. "I thought, 'How am I going to do this?' and I thought, 'Well, I can keep doing it.' And then I fell in the pig pin. And that scared me."

Unable to care for his pigs and goats, Ragsdale gave up and began selling everything - until he heard about AgrAbility.

"We help farmers who have disabilities continue to farm with their disability by making suggestions on their equipment to modify it or even purchasing different types of equipment," said Joetta White, UT Extension AgrAbility.

With help through agencies like USDA and the STAR Center, donations poured in from the Camden community - enough to purchase a golf cart.

"I rolled the golf cart off the trailer, he couldn't speak for several minutes," said White. "He was just so emotional."

"I didn't know what to say," said Ragsdale. "Even now I don't."

Now, with the cart, Ragsdale is regrouping, rebuilding, and returning to what he loves.

"It's more than just a golf cart and more than just a transportation to and from. It's like a part of me," said Ragsdale. "It's like being paralyzed and then somebody gave you legs and taught you how to walk again."

AgrAbility received a grant through USDA and is partnered with UT Extension, STAR Center of Jackson, Tennessee State University and E Tech.

To make a donation to AgrAbility, contact Joetta White at (731) 855-7656.