Here in the DC area, we can finally say Spring has settled in! We’ve seen the last frost come and go and gardeners around the Mid-Atlantic are breaking into the potting shed, busting out the gloves and trowels, and getting “down and dirty” in flower beds and strawberry patches.
Gardening is an excellent option for recreation. It has both physical and mental health benefits. Physically, you’re bending, stretching, pulling, and working all kinds of muscles. Mentally, people who enjoy working in the garden say it both relaxes and energizes them. They feel connected with the earth and the environment, and it gives them something positive to focus on, distracting them from everyday worries. Finally, if you plant an edible garden, your patience and hard work are rewarded with fresh, healthy fruits, vegetables, and herbs to add to your diet.
There are many resources available to support the gardener with a disability, from raised beds and widened garden paths to technology and do-it-yourself modifications to common garden tools. We’ve collected a few from the NIDILRR community:
- The Center on Enhanced Activity and Participation Among Persons with Arthritis focused their podcast on gardening and other popular activities when you are dealing with knee osteoarthritis.
- AbleData’s database lists hundreds of products and do-it-yourself assistive technology options for gardeners with disabilities.
- The RERC on Interactive Exercise Technology and Exercise Physiology for People with Disabilities offers schematics for a switch-operated watering assistant for kids with neuromuscular disorders.
- The Northwest Regional SCI Model System’s video forum highlights home modifications, including a modified garden.
- There’s more research on gardening, horticulture, and agriculture in our REHABDATA database.
And here are a few from other excellent organizations, agencies, and online sources:
- The National Center on Physical Activity, Health and Disability has a wonderful article on the benefits of gardening and creating accessible gardens.
- The Reeve Paralysis Center talks about Gardening from a Wheelchair.
- The National Gardening Association offers Creating a Welcoming Garden with Universal Design.
- The National AgrAbility Project assists farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural workers with disabilities in many ways (ever seen a combine with a wheelchair lift?).
- Even more articles on gardening, horticulture, and agriculture from other agencies, organizations, etc., indexed in REHABDATA.
These are just a few examples. Please share your gardening experience, tips, and suggestions in the comment section!