Garden Time provides garden programs for incarcerated men and women at the Rhode Island Adult Correctional Institutions. Through gardening, we foster education, inspiration, and empowerment; teach inmates to grow food for economic and personal self-reliance; and connect participants with opportunities that enable permanent reentry into society.
In 2011, Garden Time co-founders Kate Lacouture and Vera Bowen worked with a group of inmates at Rhode Island’s maximum-security facility to build a garden in an empty section of prison yard. Since then, two more gardens have been built within the complex— in 2012 at the women’s minimum-security facility and in 2014 at the men’s medium-security facility—and incarcerated men and women have learned to prepare the soil, plant seeds, tend the garden, and gather the harvest. Through the Garden Time program, they have become skilled gardeners, producing thousands of pounds of produce for use in the prison kitchens. More importantly, they have gained self-confidence, a positive outlook, and a connection to nature previously unknown to them.
In 2017, Garden Time developed a green industry vocational training program, Garden Time-To-Work, to respond to the needs of students at the men’s medium-security facility who were preparing for their release. Students in the Garden Time-To-Work program learn practical skills and knowledge relevant to the fields of agriculture, landscaping, and horticulture as well as critical 21st-century learning skills and soft skills necessary for any future employment.