Sunday, July 8, 2012

Revisting Tara's mobility-accessible garden

In mid-June, I helped my friend Tara wrestle a neglected mobility-accessible garden into submission. We won that first "Battle of the Weeds" (see blog post) and had a nice time connecting while we worked.

I wanted to see how the garden was progressing and reconnect with Tara, so Jay and I invited ourselves to visit her community garden bed. The heat had kept Tara away from the garden -- who didn't it keep out of the garden? But with the welcomed break in temperatures, the three of us went to see how it was doing.

The bed didn't look anything like when we first planted it. The tomatoes were progressing nicely and there were peppers soon to be harvested. Tara also planted kale and basil (she kept nibbling on the kale during our time in the garden :) and we all removed basil flowers and kept "oohing" and "ahhhhing" at the heavenly scents our work released into the air.

A few things that make this garden bed mobility accessible:

  • it's located just off a paved bike path (easy wheelchair access).
  • it's located just off a road with parking, again, easy wheelchair access.
  • the garden is built up 36 inches on the bike path side, and 25 inches off the ground in the back (there is a bit of a slope). This makes it easy to sit on the sides and work without standing or squatting. 
  • there is a path around the bed (that is to say, there aren't gardens immediately adjacent, allowing for easy access from all sides).
This bed isn't 100 percent wheelchair accessible because of the slope and the unpaved path around the garden. But Tara is able to wheel to the garden and, because she is able to get around on crutches, can access the rest of the bed when she needs to.

Tara showing Jay the kale (behind the tomato plants).

Tara and I pruned the tomato plants, removing suckers to improve fruit production and removing the lower branches and leaves to delay the inevitable blight later in the season.

What a lovely way to spend a Sunday evening -- in the garden with a friend!


  1. This is so inspiring... Thanks so much for posting. I am not in a wheelchair but may be at some point and I've been worried that I'd have to stop gardening. You've eased my mind. :) thanks.

    1. You are welcome. We're all going to get to that point when we want to make gardening easier so we can get to our beloved dirt and plants. I'm happy to have eased your mind and I hope if the time comes you need an accessible garden plot, you can find one!

  2. I got this comment by email.

    As someone who helped put that bed in it is good to see it still in good use. We originally did it for someone who used an electric scooter and was a regular in the area. He had ability to move all around the bed so the slope was not an issue once he got there. We put in “grassy pavers” that are probably grown over to help it work for the wheels, too.

    We also had our eyes on an area off Corry St. that is pretty level and had a UW design class interested but there was some hang-up and the funds were withdrawn. We hoped to make a small seating/gardening area there with a variety of options for various differing needs could be available (knowing that people usually have specific setups that work best for them).

    I enjoy your posts.

    Joe Mathers
    Community Gardens Development Specialist
    CAC Food & Gardens