Intentional Accessibility At Mezzacello

We decided to undertake an expansion of programming and production opportunities here at Mezzacello Urban Farm. We did this through more thoughtful classroom installations and planting areas. We added 13 raised planter beds and planting tables and configuring intentional accessibility at Mezzacello.

Diversity And Inclusion

We were on a mission to build a more ADA accessible and inclusive space for teaching and learning. We started building out these planned raised bed systems in CAD to identify the best placement. What we were surprised to find is that so much of Mezzacello is already inclusive and accessible.

This entire focus came to a head after I had ordered a portable shed 10’x12′ to replace my greenhouse. I poured a slab that was sunk into the ground to make it more accessible to a ramp addition. What was delivered was a prebuilt shed on sleds that sat on the slab and was 12″ in the air.

The bio shed on its concrete slab but sitting on sleds fro easy transport.

It’s Not Rocket Science

What followed was an ordeal to lift this new shed up on a 3 ton hydraulic jack and onto concrete piers so the sleds could be removed (see photo below). It was a really powerful – and annoying that we need to work harder to make learning and exploring at Mezzacello easier for everyone, especially our wheeled friends.

Lifting the Bioshed off the concrete pad to remove the sleds.

Once we had the sleds removed and the shed was placed flat on the concrete pad, we had to deal with the final 4″ of access. We will be adding aluminum railed ramps to the bio shed, and an additional ramp to the classroom shed. We already had a rubber matte space between the sheds that is completely accessible.

We may run into some space and maneuverability issues within the sheds, but those can be managed. We are working on linoleum flooring in all classrooms and labs and thoughtful use of off floor shelving and cabinets and ADA compliant stainless steel counters and sinks. We want to be accessible and inclusive.

The Last Surprise of the Survey

Once we had the farm all put back together. EVERYTHING in the Lab and Bioreactor area (see gallery above) had to be moved to get that shed in here. Then we started creating an asset map in infrastructure here at Mezzacello. It was a surprise.

There are ground-based planting and farm beds, but a large majority of the plants and planters are raised by default. Grassy areas are stabilized by vinyl trellis paths that create firm rolling areas for our wheeled guests. And the livestock area is entirely surfaced in accessible and sterilzable rubber mattes, including the chicken run area.

This makes me proud. I want people to come here and learn, thrive and be seen. I am delighted that we have made so much headway in this area and we plan to continue to expand that moving forward.

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