Garden Time’s mission is to create garden programs for incarcerated men and women at the Rhode Island Adult Correctional Institution and elsewhere. Through the processes of gardening, the organization fosters education, inspiration, and empowerment; teaches inmates to grow food for economic and personal self-reliance; and identifies and connects with existing opportunities that enable and encourage permanent re-entry into society.
Garden Time planted their first garden at the ACI in 2010 and incorporated as a 501c3 non-profit in 2013. Currently, there are Garden Time programs at three facilities at the ACI: the Men’s Maximum Security Facility, the Women’s Minimum Security Facility, both with large vegetable, flower and herb gardens, and more recently the Men’s Medium Security Facility which hosts a large herb garden. Garden Time founders designed the program, wrote the curriculum, and work in the gardens weekly with the inmates. Garden Time participants grow food for the kitchen in their facility, supplying fresh fruit and vegetables throughout the growing season and dried herbs for the winter.
The Garden Time Curriculum covers a broad range of topics with the hope that inmates will become interested in some aspect of the field, whether it is horticulture, landscaping or agriculture. Students study soil science, crop rotation, and companion planting, learn to arrange flowers, and make holiday wreaths. Guest experts teach subjects such as composting, beekeeping and nutrition. In addition to promoting sustainable farming practices, Garden Time teaches the gardeners skills to build and maintain a healthy life.