The UW Farm comprises three green spaces located on the University of Washington Seattle Campus. All three sites offer growing spaces for: food and community-building, academic coursework and field trips, service learning, volunteering and also activities for the general public. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, the UW Farm continued operations as an essential food production operation supplying households, the UW Food Pantry, and area food banks.
Total space maintained by the UW Farm is 6 acres with 1.75 cultivated for crops, Many visitors enjoy walking through the farm from dawn to dusk, 365 days a year, 7 days a week. There are no gate fees, perimeter fences or NET ID required to enter the farm spaces.
However, farm trails and pathways do not currently provide access for those with disabilities. Removing barriers for accessing green spaces would help address a sustainability issue on campus - Social Sustainability. As stated on the College of the Environment Climate Justice and Sustainability website page;
“Environmental justice serves as a lens through which social justice principles can be incorporated into the realm of fair sustainability.”
The issue of access, environmental justice and sustainability are intertwined. In fact, the city of Seattle reports that 6.4 % of the population has a disability or 46,971 individuals, but on our campus the number increases. According to UW DOIT, 19% of post-secondary students have disabilities. How does our campus address disabilities through the lens of Environmental Justice? By removing barriers to enjoy, recharge and experience the outdoors.
The UW Farm at the Center for Urban Horticulture is accessible by walking, bicycling, bus and by car. But once you arrive, the single ADA pathway stops before you can enter, preventing food access for those in wheelchairs. If there were ADA pathways then people in wheelchairs could learn about urban farming and related issues, recreate, and help plant, harvest and consume the produce grown on campus
Only the farm site at the Center for Urban Horticulture offers the potential for ADA approved pathways, due to gentle slope, proximity to restrooms, handicapped parking and amenities. This site also provides the largest number of CSF-funded projects for learning about sustainability and is adjacent to the Union Bay Natural Area, Miller library, and event areas and classrooms - all wheelchair accessible.
The UW Farm and students would like to help provide more access to the farm space, but lack funds to do so. The UW Farm budget is cobbled together with grants, sales of produce, and requests for donations from donors and departments. The farm does not receive any Student Activities Fee funding, or Academic Based Budget funding. We would like to ask CSF for the necessary support to install ADA approved pathways from one end of the farm to the other, running east -west and connecting key areas, the Native garden, World Cultural Kitchen, Heritage Orchard and Wapato Pond. These pathways would also connect visitors with disabilities to other CSF-funded projects: Compost Toilet, Vermiculture Facility, SuperShed, Children’s Garden, & Greenhouse.