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Posts Tagged ‘gardening’

Prison Garden Programs: Improving Health, Increasing Sustainability and Contributing to Community

Posted in Models, Movements by Jessica Bird on March 16th, 2012


Photo: agrilifetoday via Flickr CC

From “Prison Gardens a Growing Trend, Feeding Inmates on the Inside and Food Banks on the Outside” by Rachel Cernansky:

Nelson Mandela may have started it all when he was in prison—”A garden is one of the few things in prison that one could control,” he wrote in his autobiography. “Being a custodian of this patch of earth offered a small taste of freedom.”

But the idea probably rose to national fame only earlier this past decade, when the Garden Project of San Francisco started selling fresh produce to Alice Waters’s acclaimed Chez Panisse restaurant. Catherine Sneed, the woman who in 1992 founded that project, which is a post-release program for ex-prisoners, did so because she had already seen such success with the Horticulture Program at the San Francisco County Jail, where she would go out on a daily basis with prisoners to work on the farm within the boundaries of the jail. The vegetables they grew were donated to soup kitchens and homeless shelters. Her moment of realization of a need for a post-release program came when one student of hers asked the visiting sheriff for permission to stay and work on the farm; Sneed recalled, “he had nothing on the outside.”

She started a trend. An increasing number of prisons are launching gardening programs: on-site gardens improve the nutritional intake of inmates and as a direct result can reduce violence and improve participants’ mental health, teaches horticultural skills that can be used upon inmates’ release (slashing recidivism rates), and also often produce surplus that is sent to food banks or other community centers or services. Here’s just a sampler of such programs that have started since Sneed’s Garden Project, or even before:

– The Insight Garden Program, also in the Bay Area, runs a 1,200 square-foot organic flower garden at the the medium-security San Quention Prison, where classes are given to teach inmates about gardening, environmental sustainability, and community care through gardening.

– Farther down the coast, the California Institute for Women runs an organic garden that sends fresh produce straight to the prison kitchen and the hospital kitchen, and is also geared to establish connections between the women and the outside community.

The Greenhouse Project on New York’s Riker’s Island has seen tremendous success, while in Wisconsin, 28 adult correctional institutions started on-site gardening projects last year. Each facility is producing thousands of pounds of vegetables per year—the highest yield being 75,000 pounds of produce, a quarter of which is donated to local food banks.

– Inmates at Washington State’s McNeil Island Corrections Center have transformed an acre of lawn in the middle of the facility into an organic vegetable patch filled with tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins and other plants—and composting units. The state has several other prison gardens that send produce to local food banks.

– Greenleaf Gardens runs a Prison Horticulture Vocational Program in New York’s Westchester County, where produce from a one-acre garden that is maintained by inmates is distributed to people in need in the area.

Prison garden projects exist in New Zealand and London and no doubt in numerous countries in between. There’s even a how-to book about it (although it’s out of print), and some programs have ways the outside community can get involved. So if you’re looking for a way to green your neighborhood…

For more information about the success of The Greenhouse Program on Riker’s Island, follow the link to the article. -JB


Apartment Food Gardens: Public and private spaces

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on November 14th, 2011

Source: Permaculture Global


Photo by Jason Gerhardt

Permaculture designer Jason Gerhardt and his partner moved from the country into a city apartment in Boulder, Colorado, just over a year ago.  While they appreciated being in a home which had a smaller footprint and connected to local markets and bike access, the loss of food-growing space presented a challenge at first:

“The biggest challenge was how I was going to come up with 50 large containers to grow food in. We had 4-5 large containers that we used to grow tomatoes in in the mountains, but nothing more. The design for the containers was rather specific in that they needed to be large enough to support the growth of crops like peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, cabbages, etc. We also need the containers to be light in color so as not to over heat from the strong direct sun that our climate affords us. Lastly, I needed the containers to be attractive so my neighbors and the homeowners association wouldn’t cause a stir. I began to search online trading posts such as craigslist, but only acquired three big containers that way. These were nice ceramic and wooden containers, but too expensive to furnish the whole patio with. I then happened upon a huge supply of full sized 5 gallon buckets from a mead maker in an industrial strip down the road. I realized they weren’t the most attractive option, but they were free, salvaged from the wastestream, light in color, and large enough. I decided to use the buckets on my private patio area and put the more attractive containers down by the street and in view of the public.”

Read the full article by Jason Gerhardt to find out more about the design of the planters, the soil mix they used, and the yields they had in this first year.


Low-Tech Vertical Veggie Gardens

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on November 3rd, 2011

Source: Nourishing the Planet: Worldwatch Institute


Photo: Roots of Health

From “Working With the Community to Foster Deep Roots of Health” by Molly Theobald:

Roots of Health, an organization based on the island of Palawan in the Philippines, views maternal and reproductive health as concerns that impact the well-being of entire communities.[…]

Roots of Health and its staff of young nurses and teachers, work directly with mothers and children, to bring reproductive and maternal health, nutrition, and education into the community.[…]

Roots of Health is also providing families with the tools they need to improve their nutrition.

One of these tools is a vertical garden—a large plastic drum with 40 holes cut evenly around the sides. These holes create an area for planting that is more than six times greater than the top surface of the container. The drum is filled with compost-enriched soil and planted with seeds such as eggplant, chili, pumpkin, okra and various indigenous leafy greens such as alugbati and pechay. Straw is used on the top surface as a mulch to help the soil retain moisture and nutrients.

The soil used in the vertical gardens is a homemade mixture of soil, charcoal, which acts as a conditioner, limestone, to reduce the acidity, and compost, to add additional nutrients to the soil. In this way, the vertical garden is its own self-contained and fertile growing space, producing healthy and nutrient rich harvests that are isolated from ground pollutants and pests.The organization prefers to use the plastic drums because the plastic stands up best in the humid, tropical weather, explained Marcus Swanepoel, Media and Program Manager for Roots of Health.

The drums cost approximately $15 USD each and the organization provides them to families in exchange for a small deposit. The vegetables grown in these vertical gardens not only help to improve nutrition for mothers and their children, they are also helping to diversify the diets of the entire community. Each drum produces enough food to supplement household diets, with surplus left over to be sold within the community. And households have really made the vertical gardens their own, adds Marcus. “I know some families that have set up poles on the top of the drums in order to grow beans—that isn’t something we taught them to do. They are doing it all on their own.”[…]

Read the full article by Molly Theobald, or visit the Roots of Health website.


Kitchen Garden Schools: Adelaide Tour

Posted in Events, Movements by Kate Archdeacon on September 26th, 2011

Adelaide Kitchen Garden Schools Tour with Maggie Beer

Hosted by our wonderful South Australian Ambassador Maggie Beer, our first-ever South Australian schools tour visits established Kitchen Garden Schools throughout Adelaide that have been running the Kitchen Garden Program for several years and are now reaping the benefits.  Join Maggie to view kitchen and garden classes in action, speak to Foundation staff and school staff, and enjoy a delicious gourmet lunch. This is an inspirational day that showcases the beautiful and productive school gardens as well as the home-style kitchens, and gives participants a chance to get closer to the Program in action. The tours are suitable for staff from interested schools and new Kitchen Garden Schools, as well as our Subscribers and interested members of the public.

8:45AM – 4:45pm, 10 Nov, 2011

Public: $77.00
Subscribers: $55.00
Program Schools: $44.00

Venue
Kilkenny Primary School, Jane Street
West Croydon SA 5008

Click through to register for the tour.

www.kitchengardenfoundation.org.au