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Walk in the Shoes of a Florida Farmer

Everyone has heard of farmer’s having a green thumb, but have you heard of them having a green toe? Well, with the right foot protection and support, they can avoid this less than appealing trait. Podiatrist Dr. Anthony Merendino, (DPM) a podiatrist from UF Shands Medical Science Center in Gainesville, FL has devoted his research career to helping solve a wide variety of foot and ankle (issues). I reached out to Dr. Merendino to see if he would be able to help me focus these findings on my clients, the farmers, sports turf and landscape professionals. He has agreed to come help in Volusia County.

Dr. Anthony Merendino (DPM) Podiatrist UF Shands Medical Center in Gainesville, FL

Dr. Anthony Merendino (DPM) Podiatrist, UF Shands Medical Center

Early Surveys

This past year, I have conducted several surveys to find out what features the ag professionals liked in their shoes, the price they paid, favorite brand and any current foot issue they were experiencing. And as expected, the results were diverse. One main concern was that Farmers (like the rest of us) have bad feet and lack the education to improve their foot health. Another factor is that work shoes/boots are aimed at clientele in temperate climates that often endure harsher conditions (snow, ice, freezing temperatures).  Florida farmers are a very underrepresented group when it comes to foot health issues. They often push past any minor injuries to keep serving our community under our harsh, humid conditions.

Typical Florida Farmer’s foot.
Credit: Karen Stauderman

Common footwear of a Florida Ag professional including foot/toe issues.
Credit: Johnny Hoblick

Help on the Way

From this preliminary data, I wanted to see if there was a way that we could solve some of these health problems and provide educational outreach with Dr. Anthony’s research in extension programming. With the help of Dr. Anthony Merendino we aim to alleviate at least one of the stressors in their busy lives.  We hope to track a small sample of clients over a short period to see whether they experience improvement in their foot health. ‘Walk in the Shoes of a Florida Farmer’ is an extension program planned this summer (July 30th) at the UF/IFAS Extension Volusia County Office. Growers will need to RSVP in order to attend the event. For more information, contact me for more information (kstauderman@ufl.edu).

Future blogs will share the findings and outcomes of this study. Stay tuned.

 

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