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Therapeutic Garden Returns to Retreat for Third Year

Tags: Retreat
July 11, 2019 12:00 AM
By: DOC Staff

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Submitted by Gaetano Giordano, Chaplain

Inmate gardeners at SCI RetreatIt is truly amazing what can be accomplished by those that have vision and purpose. This is only our third year planting the garden at SCI Retreat, and yet so much has been accomplished: providing generous donations to local charities and improving the prison's environment.

Most of the work in the Therapeutic Garden is done by hand with a limited number of tools, no chemicals, and no commercial fertilizer. The produce is totally organic. When we asked one of the gardeners about why there aren't many bugs on these plants he responded by saying that the plants are so healthy that the bugs don't even desire them!

It is amazing how many questions we get asked about how the growing process works. Someone asked, "What is that tall green thing in the middle of the garden?"

"That's garlic."

"Really! I never knew how it grows."

We have a long waiting list of those who are interested in growing things. Hardly any of the fresh produce is used in the Institution; more of it goes out to local food centers that feed people who can't afford healthy produce. The garden workers have a sense of pride and accomplishment when they know how and where the produce is being used.

This year we doubled our harvest by planting back-to-back crops: spring, summer, and fall. We save a lot of our own seeds from year to year. Thus, we are producing more, but requiring less. SCI Dallas' compost program provides rich, organic compost.

What does the future hold for the Therapeutic Garden? We hope to expand it, put a few more individuals to work, and grow more vegetables to be given away. We are also looking to expand the educational aspect of the garden program.

We have noticed since starting the garden program that the atmosphere in the prison has changed. The individuals that work in the prison garden do all the planning and keep all the records of what has been planted and what has been given away.

The Therapeutic Garden has truly been a blessing to all that are involved here at Retreat.

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