Apr 15, 2015 by

Backyard, community, and therapeutic gardens are becoming increasingly popular, but not everyone gets to participate in the very social act of gardening. Older people or those with back problems have trouble bending over. That’s been solved with raised beds. Still, many older people or disabled gardeners have been left out. A new collaborative garden project from France tries to remedy this. La Valise and the Mauves Allotment Society have created Terraform, a raised garden plot for wheelchair users.

The approach allows wheelchair users easy access. An ingenious “arched pod” offers a greater degree of comfort, enabling wheelchair-bound gardeners to seed and bed at table level.

The safe, UV-treated, recycled polyethylene pod is sculpted to fit around the wheelchair base. The team says the pod’s dimensions were carefully calculated to enable normal arm extension, preventing any repetitive stress injuries.

The terraform is insulated with a plastic layer to ensure water doesn’t damage the station. The team recommends a first layer of branches and packed soil, then a litter of leaves, fine branches, and growing medium. Finally, manure or compost can be added on top. Clearly, lots of plants can be grown in these:

Apparently, more features are in the works, including cabinets for tools, ergonomic accessories, and an integrated drip irrigation system.

In France, the team has promoted these as “healing gardens” for use in retirement communities, hospitals, and community gardens. A pilot launched in Nantes in 2010 was the first go at expanding the service there, and now some 100 kits have been installed across the country.

Given the project is still experimental, there’s no word yet on when this will be commercially available in the U.S.

Learn more about Terraform and see a brief slideshow of people using it.

Image credit: Terraform

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