Prison Garden Focus

A prison garden provides inmate work, produces better food for the institution, teaches work skills, and provides an achievement opportunity for inmates. In Dirt! The Movie we introduced you to the Rikers Island prison garden program, The Greenhouse Project. Since then, we have received several emails from viewers asking us for more information about prison gardens, so we’ll be presenting information from time to time highlighting various prison garden programs and resources.

One of the organizations we found is The Garden Project. This program gives ex-prisoners who have been released a place to continue working on a farm, similar to New York’s Green Team that was also featured in Dirt! The Garden Project is based on the success of The Horticulture Program at the San Francisco County Jail.

For a bird’s eye view of prison gardens around the country, including The Garden Project and The Greenhouse Project, please check out this excellent blog post by Rachel Cernansky. She gives a great overview of several prison garden programs, and describes how food banks benefit from them.

You can find more information about prison and therapeutic gardens at Therapeutic Landscapes Network. The Therapeutic Landscapes Network is a knowledge base and gathering space about healing gardens, restorative landscapes, and other green spaces that promote health and well-being.

And read Dirt! The Movie participant, James Jiler‘s book, Doing Time in the Garden: Life Lessons through Prison Horticulture

Publisher’s book description:
In his book, Doing Time in the Garden, James Jiler combines an engaging personal account of running a highly successful horticultural vocation program at the largest jail complex in the United States with a practical guide to starting and managing prison and re-entry gardening programs.

The Greenhouse Project gives horticultural job-training to male and female inmates at New York City’s Rikers Island jail system. After release, ex-offenders can intern with the GreenTeam, which provides landscaping and gardening services to community groups and institutions throughout New York State.

Jiler’s humor and heartfelt stories about prison community and clear explanations of what works broaden this book’s appeal to all social activists, especially those involved with at-risk populations.