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You Can Grow It: Wheely accessible gardening

Killian has a rare degenerative disease, so his wheels give him mobility and independence to help him to get around and tend to his wide variety of peppers.

BOISE, Idaho — On this episode of 'You Can Grow It', Garden Master Jim Duthie introduces a special young man who doesn't let his disabilities stop him from gardening. His wheelchair-accessible garden allows him to grow his favorite thing, and make tasty hot sauces.

Killian McCarty is a Meridian teenager with a love of growing hot peppers; the hotter, the better. Killian uses the peppers to make his own brand of hot sauce: Killian's Wheely Hot Sauce.

Where did the sauce get its name?

"I have wheels on my chair," Killian said, "and it just fits."

Killian has a rare degenerative disease, so his wheels give him mobility and independence to help him to get around and tend to his wide variety of peppers.

Killian has many favorite peppers, but he said his favorites are the sugar rush peach pepper, banana peppers and the habanero.

Tara McCarty, Killian's mom, said the hot sauce operation started after watching some challenge videos on Youtube.

“And so we started watching hot sauce and hot things… tasting videos on YouTube. And he took it one step further, and he says ‘What if we don’t just taste them? What if we make our own, and see if we can come up with new flavors and different heat levels?’ And so we started researching how to make hot sauce at home," Tara said. “Some of them are very, very hot. Some of them we figured that out and toned it down the next time.” 

Killian said he likes his hot sauces, hot. "I love to make hot salsa, hot, hot sauce," he said.

The McCarty garden is small but productive, but the best part of the backyard space isn't the peppers, chilies and tomatoes; it's the fact that the garden is accessible to Killian.

A ramp was added from the house to the garden, so Killian has access to the back deck area and the paved pathway that runs alongside where Killian grows his peppers.

“I think it’s, well, for starters, it’s very accessible and stuff for me," Killian said. "And it’s very helpful for me to come down here and see all the garden.” 

Killian's parents built the ramp so Killian would be able to tend to his garden with less hassle.

“We’ve got two younger kids, too, that can just come and run outside and do whatever, whenever they want to, and it was a little bit harder for Killian to get outside," Tara said. "And so I think that he’s been able to come out, enjoy the sunshine, come down and see, again, his hot peppers that he really loves to grow.” 

For anyone with mobility issues wanting to start a garden, Killian has some advice.

“I would say, just go for it. I mean reach your goal,” Killian said. “Anything you want in your garden.” 

While visiting with Killian, Jim was able to taste test the impressive lineup of hot sauces. 

Killian's hot sauces are not for sale, but he does share the sauces and recipes with friends and family around the county.

For more ideas on how to make gardening more accessible to everyone, check out the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability website.

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