NewBo Demonstrates Universal Design Principles in Gardens

NewBo Learning Garden Principles of Design

Have you ever seen a garden designed using universal design principles? Would you like to discover different varieties of delicious vegetables to grow in your own garden? The Learning Garden at NewBo City Market, 1100 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids, offers visitors all that and more.

Linn County Master Gardner and NewBo City Market volunteer Lori Klopfenstein describes the project and what you will find when you go for a visit.

Q :What is the story on that garden project going on at the NewBo Market?

A : The Learning Garden is a joint community outreach project between the NewBo City Market and Linn County Extension Master Gardeners.

Located directly in front of the NewBo's 5,000 gallon, roosteremblazoned cistern, the purpose of the Learning Garden is to promote nutritional self-sufficiency by demonstrating the growing, harvesting and preparation of food crops. During the growing season, there will be a presentation on some aspect of food production technique each Saturday at 10 a.m. at the garden site (a list of upcoming presentations is at the end of this article).

This year the garden plan has focused on plants that are included in the Slow Food USA's 'Ark of Taste,' varieties of food crops typically grown in our Midwestern region that are at risk of becoming extinct. (For more detailed information on the Ark of Taste, go to Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah has been the generous sponsor of this year's Learning Garden plant materials.

At the moment, you can find squash, corn, ground cherries, tomatoes, peppers, beans and watermelon all trying to make up for lost growing time in three of the eventual five raised beds that will comprise the 2013 Learning Garden. (For detailed information on each of the plants being grown in the Learning Garden this year, go to garden.) The Learning Garden was designed using the principals of universal design, a design philosophy that strives to make any space accessible to the greatest possible range of individuals.

To this end, it consists of five raised masonry beds - raised for access by people of all heights, as well as those in chairs, and masonry for durability and to provide a working ledge.

Three of the five beds are finished at this time, with the remaining two to be finished in time for cool season planting. Each bed is 4-feet-by-26feet long and roughly 2 1/2 feet high. There is a base layer of gravel in each for drainage and the remaining 18 or so inches is compost. Before this area is considered complete, there will be some sort of level, permeable path laid between each bed.

The beds are spaced 36 inches apart from each other. This construction project has been executed by volunteers.

The Learning Garden is a work in progress.

Plans for 2014 include a continuation of the raised bed curriculum, a permanent compost demo site, hops grown on the 'living wall' structures already installed near the Learning Garden (to subsequently be brewed for a NewBo Market beer), and 'living tunnels' for the playground area, which is also under development. Master Gardener demonstrations each Saturday in August will include: Judy Stevens this week; Debbie Main on Aug. 17 and Beulah Dvorak on Aug. 24. Taste the garden bounty at an event at 10 a.m. Aug. 31. 


Questions on gardening? Contact Elizabeth Ward,

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