I am thrilled and delighted to introduce our first wheelchair accessible garden at Toronto Rehab, Bickle Center! We’re calling it GROW, for Garden Rehab On Wheels. A lot of green thumbs and grey matter went into designing this new venture. See for yourself!

This is the stellar Green Team after our first meeting of the season – our gardening champions are from recreational therapy, speech language therapy, nursing, clinical nutrition, spiritual care, volunteer resources, maintenance, management and administration.

The TR Bickle Green Team received funding from TD Friends of the Environment to start a collaborative effort involving our staff, patients and the Parkdale community organization Greenest City to grow food at Bickle Center. The idea has been on our minds for a while but a stronger commitment emerged out of 2014’s online idea crowdsourcing Talkin’ Local Food. So, we started crunching numbers and brainstorming garden design allowing wheelchair accessibility.

Garden walk through
This is were the garden will be. The wide sheets of paper in front represent the size of each elevated planter we’ll install around the perimeter.

Last week we got together and assembled the first planters. Here’s our 4-step guide to planter assembly.


Our friends from project SOIL (Shared Opportunities on Institutional Land), published  their latest paper  in the Health and Environment Research & Design Journal¹. They discuss growing evidence that “green” exercise and specifically gardening have important physical and mental health benefits.

” Therapeutic benefit of green spaces have been well documented in the areas of both mental and physical health and include improved mood, improved cognitive abilities and memory, stress hormones and immune functioning regulation, and lowered cardiovascular risks (Stavos & Yuht, 2014)
The benefits are identified in both qualitative (e.g., Wakefield et al. 2007) and quantitative research (e.g., Beery et al. 2014) and include such findings as significant increase of vegetable intake (Carney et al. 2012) and food literacy (Beery et al. 2014). Incorporating gardens into health care and prevention practices is not new, but it is experiencing resurgence (Horowitz 2012) and receiving attention in such research areas as health promotion, nursing, nutrition, community psychology, community development, social justice and landscape architecture and design.”
Sounds to me like the perfect time to get growing.

Want to get involved?

The TRI Bickle garden group meets regularly around lunch time.  During the spring and summer, Greenest City will lead 3 gardening workshops open to staff and patients. If you are a UHN staff or a patient at Bickle Centre, you are welcome to join the group and participate in activities such as planting, maintenance, harvesting and composting.

To sign up to the Bickle garden group, email Paula and Hanifa at TRI-BickleCenterGardenGroup@uhn.ca

Or follow the food projects from afar via our newsletter.



¹References and paper can be found here, or by emailing Irena Knezevik, Carleton University