Garden Time provides prison-based educational programs that teach incarcerated men and women how to cultivate gardens and grow food for their own economic and personal well-being and self-reliance. Our programs foster education, inspiration, and empowerment, and help trainees translate new skills into opportunities that enable their successful and permanent reentry into society.

In 2011, Garden Time co-founders Kate Lacouture and Vera Bowen worked with a group of inmates at the men’s maximum-security facility at the Rhode Island Adult Correctional Institutions to build a garden in an empty section of prison yard. Since then, we have added two more gardens within the complex, and trained some 300 incarcerated men and women to become skilled gardeners. While producing thousands of pounds of produce for use in the prison kitchens, Garden Time participants have also gained self-confidence, a positive outlook, and a completely new connection to nature. More recently, we have added the Garden Time to Work pre-employment program, offering important life skills and job training for the green industry. Most recently, we have added a reentry planning and support component, a natural extension of our work to help guide students toward continued growth.

Our mission is put in stark relief by one gardener’s words: “This program has allowed me to learn things I never thought were possible for a guy who has sold narcotics and helped destroy communities. I intend on following up what I have learned from Kate and Vera on the streets to help give back and help in the positive development of the same communities I helped to destroy.”