AgrAbility Virginia helps farmers continue to do their jobs

farm-droughtAfter suffering a carotid aneurysm in 1999 that made it difficult for him to walk, Dinwiddie County farmer Alvin Blaha needed a solution.

In 2003, he learned about a program called AgrAbility that helps farmers with disabilities continue to work. He was the second person in Virginia to receive help from AgrAbility Virginia, one of 24 state-level affiliates of the National AgrAbility Project.

Blaha was unable to pull himself up onto his farm equipment. AgrAbility Virginia helped find resources to retrofit angled steps on his combine so he could get on and off safely.

“I was using a ladder to angle against equipment and walk up, but then I had nowhere to put the ladder and had trouble getting down from the equipment,” he said. The manufacturer did not make any other steps that would resolve the problem.

Without the angled steps, “I wouldn’t be able to farm,” Blaha said. “I’m up and down on my equipment all the time, and I just couldn’t do it. AgrAbility helped me so I could continue to farm.”

In addition to the steps on his combine, AgrAbility Virginia added steps to all of Blaha’s tractors. In 2015, the organization reached out to the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services for help installing a lift on Blaha’s cotton picker. The lift runs off the cotton picker’s battery and features a safety catch to prevent it from free-falling should a cable break.

“DARS has been very helpful in providing funding for several AgrAbility Virginia projects,” said Joe Young, AgrAbility Virginia’s service coordinator. “This lift makes it a lot safer and easier for Alvin to be able to continue doing work on his farm.”

The lift also helped save Blaha’s life.

On Oct. 10, 2015, the cotton picker caught fire. “Without the lift, I don’t know how I would have escaped the equipment quickly during the fire,” Blaha said.

For more information about AgrAbility Virginia, visit

augusta free press
augusta free press news

UVA Basketball Fans!

uva basketball team of destiny
Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25. The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe, and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018 through to the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.

Dick Vitale on Team of Destiny: “This is a hoops story you will LOVE! Jerry and Chris capture the sensational and dramatic championship journey by Tony Bennett and his tenacious Cavalier team. UVA was Awesome Baby and so is this book!”

Ralph Sampson on Team of Destiny: “Jerry and Chris have lived and seen it all, even before my time. I highly recommend this book to every basketball fan across the globe. This story translates to all who know defeat and how to overcome it!”

Buy here.

AFP Business

As professional consultants, Augusta Free Press LLC provides clients in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia and beyond with marketing and PR solutions including website design, SEO, TV/radio, video work, branding and logos, social media and overall marketing campaign design and implementation. Augusta Free Press LLC was founded in 2002.

Web Design

Augusta Free Press has designed more than 800 websites for clients in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia. We take care of all facets of web design – visual design, layout design, content development and SEO. Short on staff? We’ll work with you to update your AFP-designed website in a timely manner or train your staff to make changes.

Marketing/Social Media Management

Augusta Free Press manages advertising campaigns for small- and medium-sized businesses across Virginia. You don’t need to hire a full-time marketing coordinator. Bring the experience of the Augusta Free Press team to work for you – for a fraction of the cost.

Graphic Design

Augusta Free Press will help you take your vision to the next level. From branding and logos to print materials, our team will work with you to develop products to showcase your business. From brochures and rack cards to full-color magazines or print/digital ads, we’ve got you covered.

Event Planning/Fundraising

Augusta Free Press will help you plan the best event for your organization. From an open house or anniversary to a 5K or Pay Per View, we can handle it all. Looking for training for your sales staff? We can help energize your employees or board. Need ideas to raise more money? Let us help you plan a successful event. Want to hold a news conference or need help with a press release? We can do that too.

Click here for more.