Chadek Green Park in IC opens accessible garden plots

The accessible garden plots were added as part of other renovations done to Chadek Green.


Matt Sindt

Wheelchair accessible garden plots are seen at Chadek Green Park in Iowa City on Wednesday, March 12, 2023.

Archie Wagner, News Reporter

Chadek Green Park in Iowa City installed six raised bed plots in the last two weeks to increase accessibility for people with disabilities.

The raised beds, which were built this winter, will increase accessibility for those in wheelchairs or those who have greater difficulty planting at the other properties.

Tyler Baird, superintendent of Iowa City Parks and Recreation Department Forestry and Parks, said the beds would be ready for the gardens to open at the end of the week.

“Previously, there were two raised beds that were in that park, but they weren’t accessible by a paved path, and they weren’t built in a way that was as easily accessible, especially for someone if they’re in a wheelchair,” Baird said.

When Chadek Green Park was in the process of being renovated, Baird said the raised beds were added in addition to a restroom, pavement, paths leading to the rest of the gardens, and a playground to be installed this summer.

RELATED: Local Iowa City parks closer to receiving renovations 

“We thought this would be a nice extra amenity that would serve some of the communities that weren’t able to easily use our other garden plots,” he said.

Baird said the raised beds weren’t necessarily requested by the community to be built, but the public can rent the beds to use.

“I believe they have all been rented at this point,” he said. “It’s kind of one of those ‘if you build it, they will rent it’ type of things.”

Accessible community gardens with raised beds aren’t new to the Iowa City-Coralville area.

Director of Coralville Parks and Recreation Sherri Proud said the raised beds in Coralville’s community garden were built in 2014.

“We were looking to develop community gardens, and the gardens themselves were done as an Eagle Scout project, and also the raised beds were done by another Eagle scout,” Proud said. “As more and more people get interested in community gardens and they’re not able to maybe get down on the ground and do a ground level bed, then they’ve been moving to the raised beds.”

There is also accessible parking adjacent to the raised beds, Proud said.

“We have spigots kind of around the outside of the garden,” she said. “So, you can access water pretty close.”

Mandi Remington, the founder and executive director of the Corridor Community Action Network, emphasized the importance of accessibility.

One of her priorities, Remington said, is to improve access to basic needs within the community.

“This does allow people to grow their own produce in a time that food insecurity is a major issue,” Remington said.

As part of her work with the Corridor Community Action Network, Remington said she helped facilitate a food security project where the organization purchased garden plots for volunteers to work on in shifts.

At the end of each week, volunteers were able to take home the produce that they needed, she said.

“We had a lot of initial interest and help, but we just did not have sustained interest from as many volunteers and keeping the program up was difficult,” she said. “Part of that was definitely affected by the fact that it was several long trips across the length of that park with heavy containers of water anytime we needed to water.”

While in previous years the Corridor Community Action Network had garden plots at Chadek Green, the organization was unable to obtain plots at that specific park for this year.

“In the past, we’ve had three or four, and there was only one left,” she said. “We have one plot this year, and it is actually not at Chadek this year, which is the most convenient for our primary gardening volunteers.”

Before the introduction of the raised beds at Chadek Green Park, there were a lot of accessibility issues, Remington said.

“A lot of the garden plots that are in town, you have to carry water very far, and they don’t allow hoses, so you have to actually fill your water up at the pump and then carry it to your plot, so that is an issue,” Remington said.

With the addition of the accessible plots, Remington said she hopes the water issue has been addressed.

In a follow-up email to The Daily Iowan, Baird wrote a brief statement regarding water accessibility.

“We added additional water hydrants with the park project this past year,” Baird wrote. “The new hydrants are considerably closer to all plots.”