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Healing By Growing Farms Presents "United in Healing" 1st Northeast Disability and Agriculture Conference

The Northeast Disability and Agriculture Conference is a first-time regional event designed to educate and empower the agricultural community. Saturday, February 4th, 2023 from 9am-3pm at Camp Harkness | 301 Great Neck Road | Waterford, CT 06385

The Northeast Disability and Agriculture Conference is a first-time regional event designed to educate and empower the agricultural community. Through workshops and presentations, farmer attendees will learn how to better advocate for themselves, and service provider and community supporter attendees will learn how to identify potential distress risks within the community. Together attendees will learn how to build a network sharing skills and resources to improve accessibility and reduce industry incidents of suicide.

Healing by Growing Farms founder, Dr. Ivette Ruiz, was inspired to create a healing trauma-based farm after suffering a Traumatic Brain Injury herself two years ago while preparing for a disaster relief deployment during Hurricane Isaias in 2020. Her brain injury caused prolonged PCS (Post-Concussion Syndrome), and her life has not been the same since; she has experienced discrimination, unemployment, and a lack of proper and timely medical care and attention. After realizing how difficult it was to get any treatment or understanding, her salvation was working in her home gardens, tending to her chickens and finding a way to help those impacted gravely by the COVID pandemic. As a Latinx 3rd generation new farmer and first-generation doctoral graduate, Dr. Ruiz wants to use her vast knowledge and experiences to help others who have gone and are going through similar hardships. Her executive work in healthcare, humanitarian relief, public service, food sovereignty, social justice and education helped lead her to this innovative ministry and the first Northeast Disability and Agriculture Conference.

There is NO cost to attend the conference.

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Presented by Chris Laughton

Farm Credit East - Director of Knowledge Exchange


Farm Credit East’s forward and proactive approach to their community’s needs. Chris will talk about the evolution and journey of the Customer Assistance Program (CAP). The program is modeled after Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) that are often available to employees in organizations. The Customer Assistance Program offers a diverse range of wellness programs from personal health to family, relationships, personal growth, professional development, counseling to working through financial and legal obligations and are all available to Farm Credit East customers 24/7 at no cost. Chris will share data, resources and lessons learned from people with diverse abilities from their many years utilizing the CAP program. And, finally we will hear stories from the field.


Best Practices and Resources to Support Growers: Presented by Chris Laughton This session is designed for Service Providers and Community Supporters Only.

Farm Credit East's Chris Laughton will share about his years farming in his family’s greenhouse and nursery business while working with individuals with disabilities. In this interactive workshop, service providers and community supporters will learn how to identify potential distress risks within the communities they serve and acquire strategies on how to respond effectively. Chris will provide tools and resources in addition to the CAP program to equip learners. Through storytelling, Chris will highlight how to identify customer needs and will share best practices that will equip learners to better serve their clients. Together attendees will discuss how to build a more responsive AG network; sharing skills and resources that improve service accessibility and reduce industry incidents of suicide.

Mr. Chris Laughton is the Director of Knowledge Exchange at Farm Credit East, where he has worked for over a decade. Chris coordinates Farm Credit East’s customer education and beginning farmer programs. He grew up in Eastern Massachusetts, where he worked in his family’s greenhouse and nursery business before joining Farm Credit East. He holds a bachelor’s degree in horticulture from Cornell University, a Master of Business Administration from the University of Massachusetts, and a Master of Science in applied and resource economics from the University of Connecticut. .

A Dialogue on Disability: Presented by David Ingalls This session is designed for Farmers, Forestry and Fishery Attendees Only.

Everyone deserves respect, the freedom to live with dignity, with or without a disability, and to share equal responsibility ensuring equity and equality for all. This engaging presentation will provide a space for self-care, reflections and tough discussions. Attendees will learn how to advocate for themselves and exercise their voice as part of their healing process.

Mr. David Ingalls is a retired therapist who is enjoying retirement while running his own farm. “He picked up where his dad left off”. He owns Ingalls Blueberry Hill Farm, a certified organic U-Pick blueberry operation in New York. His agricultural experiences began 11 generations ago on the family farm. He uses a gravity-fed drip irrigation system and powers his well-house with solar panels. His home, at the top of the farm, is heated through geothermal. Mr. Ingalls is married with four sons and enjoys worship at a local church. He knows the cure for whatever might trouble you: In an interview he said, “I get a lot of doctors here and I want to tell them they should write prescriptions for people to come and pick blueberries!” From counseling, to cows, vegetables, bees and honey to blueberries Mr. Ingalls has the remedy for us all.

RealTalk: Disability and Access in Agriculture : Presented by Dr. Ivette Ruiz This session is designed for ALL participants.

In this interactive session, Healing by Growing Farms Founder, Dr. Ivette Ruiz will share highlights from the conference survey, answer the top (5) questions from the responses and lead us through a group activity and thought-provoking discussion.

Closing Healing Ceremony: Presented by Crystal Jeter-Prince & Rev. Ariel Aaronson-Eves This voluntary post-conference gathering will offer a calming space for attendees to unite in reflection and meditation as they process the content of the conference. Attendees will come together in prayer for healing, mind, body and soul. There will be a moment of silence to remember those we have lost and to relinquish pain, hurt, and feelings of distress. The ceremony will end with an optional cold-water immersion "cold plunge" into ocean waters symbolizing healing and renewal. 

About Us: The Healing By Growing community fosters a holistic healing approach that reconnects trauma survivors to themselves, nature, and the environment. We seek to empower individuals to engage in sustainable and regenerative permaculture. We are committed to educating and empowering farmers, fishermen, forest workers and the community whose lifestyle has been impacted by trauma or a disability with the goal of creating a more accessible and inclusive environment. A large part of our mission is to coach, educate, advocate, research and raise Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) awareness for farmers, growers, producers, farm service providers, their families, workers and caregivers. We've identified a lack of TBI training, awareness, access, inclusion and preparedness particularly in agricultural communities where research establishes a strong link and connection between TBI’s, mental health and suicide. Founder Dr. Ivette Ruiz thrives in providing Agriculture, Social Justice and Farming Consultations in an effort to educate and train on issues of disabilities, food justice, equity, diversity, integration, aging, socially disadvantaged farmers and Beginning Farmers. The Healing By Growing Farms space serves as a demonstration site for Urban, BIPOC, Veterans and New Growers seeking to learn diverse AG practices while maximizing any available space to grow. We are a small-but-mighty Latinx woman-led farm business and we couldn't do this work without the love and support from our community.

Contact Info:
Name: Ivette Ruiz
Email: Send Email
Organization: Healing By Growing Farms

Release ID: 89089609

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