Lacombe Museums have officially celebrated the Michener House Museum’s Heritage Learning Garden’s accessible garden project on Thursday, August 10th. Although the project was constructed last year, the garden is in full bloom this year and some new signage is now on display.
“We did have Scott and Devin from Triangle Construction as our main contractors for landscaping for the entire Heritage Garden. They worked quite closely with the initial designs of what the raised garden bed would require so that they were sure to make certain that people in different variety of wheelchairs, walkers, and everything like that would be able to utilize it,” said Melissa Blunden, Executive Director of the Lacombe Museums.
The Lacombe Museums also worked with Team Jigger in designing the garden for further input on accessibility. The paths in the garden are around 5 feet wide to allow a bit more space than one wheel chair.
“The premise of the pathway was that somebody in a wheelchair would be able to come through with their partner or their guest beside them walking. That way they're not always feeling like somebody is pushing them. We wanted them to really feel like they were at home,” said Blunden.
However, Blunden adds that the wide path is also used by those using walkers, and strollers as well those who use wheelchairs.
The accessible portion of the garden features a raised u-shaped garden which offers new opportunities for the community. The raised garden also means more volunteers are able to put in the physical work to maintain the garden.
“This has really increased what we can even get for volunteer power. We have a lot of projects in the works that we're hoping to do where there's intergenerational gardening happening so we can bring in maybe the scouts and the lodge at the same time and they can work together on the garden together. That's kind of a goal for next year,” added Blunden.
Creating accessible spaces at historical locations is a challenge that many heritage sites face today and one that the Lacombe Museums hopes to continue working on.
“It is a big challenge, especially if you're a designated building, to alter it. There’s always an allowance from the organizations that do the designation to do accessibility but with the caveat of not changing the appearances of the building, and how can you make it work without impacting what we know in the heritage field as the profile of the building so just the way it looks from the outside,” explained Blunden.
You can check out the Heritage Learning Gardens at any time located just outside of the Michener House Museums located on 51st Street. The garden itself features a variety of local species of plants and signage informed by Indigenous elders, traditional knowledge keepers, and local organizations.
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