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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Wheelchair Gardening

Rolling Thunder crossing the Memorial Bridge in Washington D.C.
Cristiano Del Riccio, 2009

With this weekend being Memorial Day weekend, I have been thinking about relatives, friends, and co-workers who have served in our armed forces, and the many veterans who survived combat but must use wheelchairs to get around.

There are times, thankfully brief, when I've been wheelchair bound. But I got to thinking about what I'd have to do to convert my aquaponics greenhouse for wheelchair accessibility.

Pros for accessibility:
  • The grow beds are raised already
  • Grow media (hydroton or expanded shale) are easy to work
Accessibility considerations:
  • Ensure walkway is paved and level
  • Ensure walkway is wide enough for chair to pass (36" or 915 mm)
  • Ensure there are places where a wheelchair can turn (60"x60" or 1525 mm x 1525 mm)
  • Ensure ramps are no more than 1:12, with 1:16 to 1:20 preferred

To modify my current garden for wheelchair access, I would need to eliminate all piping, cords, and boards that cross the walkway. I would also need to increase the width of the walkway to 36 inches. A 12 ft. by 10 ft. greenhouse would easily accommodate my current system, along with vertical grow towers, in a configuration that could be easily negotiated by a gardener in a wheelchair.

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