The Therapeutic Garden at Retreat began with a vision within the Religious Services Department. CCPM Stacy Miller, along with the chaplains, came up with a plan to make this vision a reality.
The Retreat Therapeutic garden has one, singular purpose, which can be summed up in the following statement:
The Therapeutic Garden will serve as a platform for transformation as each inmate is connected to nature.
This purpose statement can be broken down into seven objectives. These objectives are designed to influence both the inmate population and the employees who staff the institution.
- Promote positive community participation and moral accountability.
- Produce therapeutic activities and events for the therapeutic and lifer communities.
- Promote a peaceful community atmosphere, which will help make the prison a safer place to live and work.
- Produce clean and healthy herbs and vegetables to be used within the prison
- Promote vocational education in horticulture
- Produce at least 16 paid positions for inmates
- Promote positive relationships with outside community organizations through produce donations.
The garden started with a 100' by 30' plot of land in 2017, which produced nearly a thousand pounds of fresh vegetables. These vegetables were not only used in the ODR but were distributed to two different charities in our local communities: Ruth's Place and the West Side Food Pantry. Several public visitors were also invited to provide inmates educational opportunities related to horticulture and the value of organic foods.
In 2018, the garden was expanded. Three more plots were added, allowing us to produce summer, winter, and fall crops. So far this year Retreat has donated to the Hope Center and the West Fide Food Pantry.
The future is bright for the therapeutic garden. We hope to continue expansion to provide more job opportunities, more educational events, and to be a greater blessing both to outside charities and the incarcerated community. We further hope to reach a point of self-sufficiency by utilizing the seeds of previous crops for the following season.