Gardening is a practical and economical source of fresh, healthy produce – it’s also a relaxing and social experience which encourages sharing of ideas and experiences. By nurturing and caring for plants and flowers, people feel needed, develop skills, build self-confidence, learn and grow.
Unfortunately, people with disabilities face many obstacles to such opportunities. With this in mind, the Disabled Independent Gardeners Association (DIGA) was established in 1987.
According to co-founder Barbara Raynor: "Gardening is a focus outside of one's self. The bottom line is, if you are worrying about a plant and what it needs for its well being, you forget your disability. The more you garden, the further this develops. I bumped around in the garden for years, before arthritis really knocked me out. Gardening after that wasn't so much conscious as absolutely necessary."
As happens with many small non-profit groups, situations in the lives of the founders made it impossible to keep this popular endeavour active, and it ceased operating in the mid 1990s.
Sam Sullivan, Tetraplegic as a result of a skiing accident aged 19, revived DIGA in 2003, supported by its original founders.
DIGA is again flourishing, continuing to develop meaningful experiences in gardening for people with disabilities. Pursuing their passion for gardening is something that many people with disabilities never imagined possible because of the many physical barriers. DIGA works to remove those barriers.