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Accessibility at the SJU Community Garden

Last updated on December 11, 2019

The SJU Community Garden was created in order to be at the intersection of sustainability and social justice. It is an intentionally created space that promotes the Jesuit ideals of appreciating all things, being engaged with the community, and a commitment to service and the environment. Since it first began in 2012, the community garden has successfully built a garden for all to use and those involved have donated a significant amount of food to different organizations in the local community. One of the best things about the garden is that it is really so much more than what it seems. It is a collaborative space that can be used for a wide variety of things such as small concerts, open-mics, or even just a nice place to hold a meeting. We interviewed Community Garden director Bill Wolff to learn more about this great organization and project. Keep reading to learn more!

  1. Could you tell us a little about the community garden outside of Merion? How does it relate to your goals in campus accessibility? 

Relating to accessibility, our goal is to have the garden be 100% inclusive, which means that we have been thinking about accessibility from the early days of planning the garden. That Access First Design is vital in all design spaces, and the garden is no exception. We have been working with the Kinney Center to find ways to make the garden wheelchair accessible and to have the beds and crops growing in ways that their students can engage with and enjoy the garden. Regarding the wheelchair accessibility, we have been communicating with an outside company that specializes in wheelchair accessible woodchip walkways to create a path that will run through the garden. We are waiting to hear what the price is so we can start to move forward.


2.How did you come up with the idea for the garden?

I took over as director of the garden in 2017 and worked closely with students to ensure that the garden was student-driven. It took about a year of meetings and planning get to a place where students were ready to propose to the university to have the garden where it is today. Students created the proposal, presented it, and we were thrilled when it was approved.


  1. What do you do with the food produced by the garden? 

All food is donated to shelters, food banks, and other organizations in need of food. This year we donated over 200 pounds of produce.


  1. In what ways is the community garden different from a regular one? In other words, what special features make it accessible?
  2. What is being done in order to make the community garden more accessible?

I think I addressed these above, but we are mindful that we are just at the beginning stages of making it accessible. But, all of our conversations about garden changes include accessibility. We were happy to have Kinney Center students working in the garden this summer and we are looking forward to continuing that partnership in our second year.

Check out the Community Garden on Instagram and on Twitter.

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