Sunday, July 12, 2020

Meet Jose Garza

Meet Jose Garza

Jose Garza began working at VWO, Inc. in 2011. He started with the harvest crew and has advanced to managing harvest crews. He works year round for the farm and in the winter, works forty or more hours weekly pruning the farm’s 200 acres of apple orchards.

Jose and friends.

Jose had a history of trigger finger in his right hand. A few years ago, surgery repaired the culprit tendon. However, a second injury on the same hand kept him out of the orchard the entire winter of 2014-15. He tried his hand in the farm’s packing house, but the work also aggravated the injury. The same issue is now developing in his left hand.

Jose’s wife, Andrea, a physical therapy assistant, knew of AgrAbility and reached out to Ned Stoller. Ned provided an on-farm evaluation that involved both Garzas, and Jose’s employer, Jeff VanderWerff.

Joe's new trimmer at work. Joe's trimmer part 2.

Pruning is vital to a fruit tree’s long term production capacity. Pruning also keeps Jose, along with a few additional key employees,
working all through Michigan’s snowy winter, long after fruit crops are harvested and stored for winter packing.

For Jose to continue his vital role in the orchard, he had to make some changes in the way he worked. Ned recommended a few minutes of hand stretches each half hour, fat handles on tools to make gripping easier, anti-vibration gloves, and finally, the key to the whole change--- a power pruner. At over $3000, the cost of the pruner----key to keeping Jose on the job----was a big obstacle.

With contributions from Telamon Corporation of Sparta and Easter Seals Michigan, the cost was now within reach for the Garza’s. Jose picked up his new pruner in early April. Although most of the work had already been accomplished for the season, Jose is looking forward to using his new pruner this winter.

“The one I’m using now is similar, but it is a lot heavier,” Jose said. “This one is much lighter.”

The new machine’s reduced weight, coupled with an easy gliding, electric powered trigger will help reduce fatigue and allow Jose to continue working and leading field crews in Michigan’s Fruit Ridge area.

Thank you Easter Seals Michigan and Telamon Corporation for your partnership in helping the Garza family stay actively employed!

Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2016

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