A non-profit initiative of the Permaculture Education Institute & Morag Gamble

Permaculture & Disabilities

by | April 20, 2021 | Permayouth

Billie Ballard is my big sister living with me and my family in the Noosa Hinterland. You may have seen or even own one of Billie’s incredible crochet blankets.

Billie has a disability, so my family had Billie and other people with disabilities and chronic illnesses in mind when we designed our permaculture property known as Two Hoots Farm.

We knew that gardening and spending time in nature has many health benefits – that it can provide exercise, stimulation, and relaxation.

So, with a little planning …ok, maybe a lot of planning and consideration… we were able to create an accessible, productive, and pleasant garden for my sister and others who have disabilities and chronic illnesses.

Designing our garden with Billie in mind, we made raised beds for physical restrictions she has to avoid her having to bend down and stoop.

At times Billie is in a wheelchair so we provided tables for potting, planting and seed saving that are wheelchair accessible as much as possible.

We had to consider our paths around our garden and food forest which needed to be smooth, non-slip, and accessible.

One of the most successful and well-used addition to our garden for Billie is having seats around – so if she feels faint or tired she can sit and catch her breath, observe and relax.

In planning and designing our permaculture garden we also considered what varieties of plants that have sensory and textural qualities.

We thought about a diverse range of plants that deliver sounds, smell, taste, touch, and visual qualities. We also incorporated frog bogs, bee water bowls, and bird feeders as Billie loves to sit and watch nature in all forms.

Since designing and implementing our garden designs with Billie in mind, we have found Billie’s vocabulary and communication skills have improved & her fitness and confidence have grown exponentially.

Billie is now a part of not only growing her own food, she is now cooking what she has grown – so nutritionally, gardening has also helped her learn about healthy food.

Spending time in the garden is a healthy and stimulating activity that should be available & enjoyed by all abilities by making a few mindful adaptions.

– By Eve Ballard

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