A Learning Garden For All



  • Patricia Kepler, Accessibility Specialist, Portland Commuity College
  • Miriam Latzer, , Portland Community College

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 1-hr
  • Format: Interactive/Discussion
  • Expertise Level: Intermediate
  • Type of session: General Conference


A discussion about the recent partnership between the Portland Community College Disability Service office and the Rock Creek Learning Garden, resulting in a redesign of the learning garden with a focus on universal access.


In this workshop we will share the history of how these two departments came together with the shared focus on creating a welcoming learning garden for people of all abilities. Utilizing 3D modeling and printing, focus groups, and faculty partnerships, The team redesigned pathways, garden beds and benches to maximize the gardens usability. Open collaboration with the campus community and incorporating the work into class projects will help to build a sense of ownership, reduce the cost of the the project, and motivate student success.


  1. Campus gardens encourage students to spend time outside and adopt a healthier diet.
  2. A garden based on universal design builds community and offers relief from inequities in built environments.
  3. Spaces where community members can interact and bridge gap time is important at a commuter college.

Disability Areas

All Areas, Cognitive/Learning

Topic Areas


Speaker Bio(s)

Patricia Kepler

Patricia Kepler works as an Accessibility Specialist for Portland Community College And has served as a Governor appointed commissioner of the Oregon Disabilities Commission and the Oregon Commission for the Blind. She currently serves on the Metro Committee on Racial Equity and the Tri-Met Committee on Accessible Transportation. Patricia uses she/her pronouns. Other related projects she has worked on include the Access Recreation Project which can be found at http://accesstrails.org

Miriam Latzer

Miriam brings over 12 years of experience running small, certified naturally grown farms in the Hudson Valley of New York. She earned a Master’s Degree in Environmental Land Use Planning from Rutgers University in New Jersey. Before coming to PCC, she worked with public school communities in New York City to pilot school-based farm shares that will continue with a beginning farmer at the helm. She also worked as an assistant grower and educational coordinator for the Poughkeepsie Farm Project located on the Vassar college campus. Her ties to Portland stretch back to 1998 when she served as an AmeriCorps member and grew vegetables on the grounds of the Northeast Emergency Food Program. She’s glad to return to the area and provide her expertise to our Learning Garden and sustainability efforts.