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Colorado Quarterly Magazine 

"Rewriting the Myths, Redefining the Realities"

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A Champion Adaptive Garden

by Margi Ness


The Center for People With Disabilities in Boulder County built an adaptive community garden this year (see story in Spring 2001 issue). The CPWD back yard was transformed from a pile of dirt  to a beautiful, award-winning flower and vegetable garden. 

Long before the first shovel of dirt was turned in the Adaptive Garden, the idea was germinating in the minds of several Center for People with Disabilities (CPWD) staff. For many years, gardening projects have been an integral part of CPWDs Independent Living Program (ILP). But until CPWD moved to its current location in 2000, there was never the space for an accessible garden. After multiple CPWD staff brainstorming sessions, CSU Cooperative Extension of Boulder County and Growing Gardens of Boulder County were contacted. A collaborative partnership was formed and the planning process began.

The first step was to design a garden where people with physical, visual, and mobility impairments could actually participate in gardening, from planting to harvesting. Therefore, individuals with disabilities were vital to the planning process, as were the services of a skilled landscape architect. After many meetings, it was determined that the garden design should incorporate raised beds, container gardens, hanging gardens, sensory areas, shade structures, and a water feature.

To make the plan a reality, the collaborators realized that nearly $100,000 of seed money would be needed. With generous community support, nearly $90,000 has been raised in the form of donated time, materials, greenery (including seeds) and garden accessories.

From the inception of the project, CPWD consumers and staff have been active in the Adaptive Garden. This summer, gardening classes were given. The ILP incorporated the garden produce into its cooking classes and taught how to preserve fresh herbs.

Forty-three entries of fresh foliage and flowers were made at the Boulder County Fair. They resulted in thirty-three ribbons including two grand champions, fourteen first places, and the Colorado Master Gardeners of Boulder County Award for Plants Specific for the Rocky Mountain Region. In addition, CPWD students decorated a scarecrow (cover picture) that received the awards of grand champion, most creative, and first place in the adult division. 

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Copyright 2002 A&H Publishing Corporation