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Making the Colgate Community Garden Accessible

By Sustainability Office on July 24, 2013

Professor Aisha Musa working in the Colgate Community Garden

As a part of the Community Garden’s pilot Community Plots program, a raised garden bed was designed specifically for Colgate Professor Aisha Musa. The process was unique, as Prof. Musa gardens from her wheelchair. Community Garden Consultant Beth Roy has a background in Horticultural Therapy, and has designed wheelchair accessible garden beds in the past. While typical raised garden beds are around 12-16” high, Prof. Musa’s bed is 24” high so that she can easily access her garden while in a seated position. And thanks to a new crushed stone pathway put in by Phil Roe from Hamilton Lawn and Garden and funded by the Colgate Accessibility Office, Prof. Musa now has complete access to her bed in the Community Garden.

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Prof. Musa says of her bed, “What I have liked most so far is the opportunity to grow organic vegetables. I am really concerned about herbicides, pesticides, and GMOs in our food supply. Growing vegetables gives me more control over what I eat.” Musa’s raised bed is constructed out of larch milled at the local Amish saw mill, Troyer Farms, rather than pressure treated wood which will often leach arsenic and other heavy metals into the soil.

Prof. Musa began work in her plot the week of June 27th, working with Gabe Block ‘15 and Beth to plant several seeds and some small seedlings she had grown at home. “Right now, I am growing beets, broccoli, bush beans, cabbage (red), dragon tongue beans, kale, lettuce, peas, peppermint, salsa peppers, spinach, summer squash, thyme, tomatoes, and zucchini,” says Musa, “My plan was based mostly on what I like to eat.”

She doesn’t see her organic gardening career ending anytime soon either. “For this season, I will be thrilled with whatever I successfully harvest,” Musa says. “In the future, I want to do more careful planning of just what I plant and when.” Thankfully, her raised bed is tall enough not to have sustained any damage from the recent flooding, and her plants are growing beautifully!

For more information on the Colgate Community Garden Plots, contact the garden team at communitygarden@colgate.edu. If we have a successful year, we hope to offer even more plots to community members in the future!

Students building an accessible raised bed at the Colgate Community Garden

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