Cultivating a Second Chance: JoEllen’s Story

“Growing and caring for the plants has kept me going every day for the last two years.”

The Give Back Garden Program uses farming and therapeutic gardening to teach incarcerated women organic farming skills, environmental sustainability, and how to use gardening as a means to reduce stress.  The food grown is donated to local food pantries that provides the women with a vital community connection.  The newly established farm and gardens are a place of beauty and calm within the confined walls of prison that offers a sense of purpose and control.  JoEllen, who has been incarcerated for almost 10 years, is one of the women who has wholeheartedly embraced the program and has risen to the ranks of a Give Back Garden leader. As a groundskeeper for the correctional facility, gardening was a natural fit for her. “To learn organic gardening has been a dream come true.  My family farmed, but like most kids, I wasn’t interested in that.  It’s been so empowering to have the knowledge and skill to grow your own food. The garden is so beautiful and peaceful.  My release date is coming up and my plan is to start a bed and breakfast with an organic farm. The program has been amazing.”