Nov 072004
Authors: Clarke Reader

CSU’s campus is looking a little greener – but it has nothing to

do with school colors.

A new garden has arrived on campus and it is not just any

garden. It’s a garden built specifically for the Department of

Occupational Therapy.

“We are a profession concerned with everyday occupations that

people do in their daily lives,” said Karen Spencer, an associate

occupational therapy professor. “Specifically, with people with

limitations on occupations and how to engage these people to

participate in everyday activities that are meaningful and


This year, the U.S. News and World Report ranked CSU’s

Department of Occupational Therapy at seventh in the nation.

“The Occupational Therapy Garden is a beautiful space that is

open to all faculty, students and members of the community,” wrote

Marissa Webb, a second year graduate student, in an e-mail

interview. “The garden is designed to be accessible to people of

all ages and abilities.”

The garden was built with the idea of universal design in


“Universal design is the idea that when we create objects, we

think of creating them in a way that many people can use it, not

just people with one ability,” Spencer said. “On the garden level,

it allows people to garden even if they cannot garden in a

conventional way.”

The garden was built in March and April of last year with the

help of students.

“I worked with Karen Spencer and the occupational therapy

department on the concept, and then with a group of students, built

it last spring,” said Fred Haberecht, campus landscape


There are several unique features in the garden, including a

“sensory garden” that allows people to touch and smell plants,

garden beds set at different heights for people in wheelchairs or

standing and paths made of different materials to help users tell

the difference between different areas.

“A lot of times designing is on a visual basis,” Haberecht said.

“On the garden, both I and the students had to think ‘what if I

couldn’t see?’ How would it function for a person with a


The garden, located south of the Occupational Therapy Building,

is open to all students, faculty and staff at CSU.

“There are other gardens like this, but it’s on campus, which is

a unique attribute,” Haberecht said.

The garden’s main purpose is to educate people and give them an

opportunity to expand horizons.

“The Garden is an opening for people to discover or strengthen

their awareness of the importance and value of accessibility for

all people,” Webb wrote. “The garden is filled with opportunities

and experiences for individuals to explore, learn and enjoy.”

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