City Green cuts ribbon on Inclusive Healthy Communities project to increase disability access
Everybody should have access to natural outdoor spaces and to grow healthy food and enjoy passive recreation in a beautiful space and a beautiful garden.
October 30, 2022
On Wednesday, October 20th, City Green celebrated the ribbon cutting for their Inclusive Healthy Communities project, “Gardens for All.” The project, funded by the Division of Disability Services, New Jersey Department of Human Services, upgraded the Farm Eco-Center and community gardens across City Green’s Dig In! network to include accessible surfaces, pathways, and garden beds.
Attendees at the ribbon cutting ceremony included City Green Executive Director Jennifer Papa, Assistant Director of NJ Division of Disability Services Jacqueline Moskowitz, Mayor of Clifton James Anzaldi, City of Clifton Councilpersons Mary Sadrakula and Ray Grabowski, Passaic County Commissioner Director Pat Lepore and Commissioner Terry Duffy, Clifton Recreation Supervisor Debbie Oliver, and Senior Case Manager at Paterson Park Apartments Michelle Kadell.
During the ceremony, City Green Founder and Executive Director Jennifer Papa remarked, “Everybody should have access to natural outdoor spaces, to grow healthy food, enjoy passive recreation in a beautiful space and a beautiful garden, and participate in our programming. All of this was made possible through the State of New Jersey’s Inclusive Healthy Communities grant from the Department of Human Services, Division of Disabilities Service. They had the vision to understand that projects like this are just as important as accessible buildings and that these inclusive and inviting outdoor spaces that everyone can take advantage of are so important for our neighbors and our community.”
The Farm Eco-Center is now equipped with accessible surfaces and pathways, raised accessible garden beds, accessible seating, and horticultural therapy elements to enhance visitors’ sensory and restorative experience. The project also improved accessibility at four of City Green’s community garden partner sites that serve senior citizens, veterans, and individuals with developmental disabilities. City Green’s Dig In! partner gardens now feature wider pathways, wheelchair-accessible garden beds, and adaptive garden tools.
“In 2015 I connected with City Green, and when I say they change lives they certainly changed the lives of our veterans,” Michelle Kadell, Senior Case Manager at Paterson Park Apartments shared. “We have a lot of senior and physically disabled veterans, and so it was great for them to have access to be able to garden again in their wheelchairs and walkers.”
“This project highlights the importance of making gardens and outdoor spaces accessible for all,” Passaic County Commissioner Terry Duffy shared. “It also goes one step further – it makes the Farm-Eco Center a place where people of all abilities can cohesively use all that the Eco-Center has to offer together alongside their peers. These improvements give everyone the same access to a garden environment that fosters a unified, community atmosphere.”
Funding from the Inclusive Healthy Communities Grant Program, an initiative of the New Jersey Department of Human Services, will enable City Green and the City of Clifton to further promote inclusive practices that support the health and well-being of individuals with disabilities through City Green’s “Gardens for All” initiative. This project is a model for the permanent and sustainable changes that can be implemented to ensure that individuals with disabilities can have full access to opportunities that support community health and well-being.