GARDENING FOR ALL
Our Gardening for All initiative and its related community task force were formed in Spring 2019 in response to the needs of several Grassroots Gardeners living with disabilities and in recognition that all people should have access to our garden network, now and in the future. Through the generous support of the New York State Conservation Partnership Program and the Land Trust Alliance, the task force, under the leadership of long-time Grassroots Gardener, Gerldine Wilson, spent a year evaluating the community and school garden network to determine what needed to change to make the gardens more accessible.
With input from several Grassroots gardeners as well as local organizations such as Deaf Access Services, Western New York Independent Living, VIA, BMHA, the Buffalo Public Schools, and the University at Buffalo IDEA Center, as well as more broadly from a community survey, 7 gardens were identified for immediate improvement with a long-term plan of modifying every garden for universal access.
Recommendations for improvement include (but are not limited to) the addition of wheelchair accessible pathways, QR coded signage for screen reader use, other wayfinding signage, varied heights of raised beds and trail markers. Modifications began in 2021 and will continue for these specific gardens in 2022. Grassroots Gardens is also committed to making all of our meetings and public gatherings more accessible by supporting interpreters and translators for any gardeners who need them via our partnerships with Deaf Access Services and the International Institute of Buffalo.
To learn more about how to make your garden more accessible, read our Universal Design Resource Guide which was recently featured by our partners at the Land Trust Alliance.
All members of the Buffalo and Niagara Falls community are welcome to join the Gardening for All Task Force. To join, please contact Gerldine Wilson via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a Grassroots gardener and need better access in your community garden, please contact us at email@example.com.
Photo: Gardener Elizabeth Triggs meets with Krista Macy from the UB IDEA Center to discuss needed improvements at one of the We Care community gardens.
Photo: Gerldine Wilson, coordinator of the Gardening for All task force, at the Victory Community Garden.
Photo: Gardener Yann Spindler (in the cap) leads a tour of the Mulberry Garden as part of Deaf Access Day in the Garden, an annual training for Deaf gardeners.
Photo: Todd Vaarek of WNYIL assesses accessibility at the Tyler Street Community Garden.