Since 2011, Garden Time has prepared incarcerated individuals for the workforce, equipping a traditionally underserved population with the skills, self-confidence and support they need to successfully transition to long-term employment and a productive life in the community. As more of our incarcerated gardeners are released from prison, focusing on reentry programming is a natural extension of our work.
REENTRY COMMUNITY GARDEN at OpenDoors
In 2020 Garden Time partnered with OpenDoors to build a Reentry Community Garden, benefitting our graduates as well as OpenDoors clients and residents–all formerly incarcerated individuals. Since 2011, the OpenDoors Resource Center at 485 Plainfield Street has served community members, families, and individuals impacted by the justice system who are looking for a supportive environment to restore their lives.
Garden Time uses the garden at OpenDoors as a new home base for our work outside of prison including reentry planning, job coaching and continuing plant-based education. Garden Time graduates, OpenDoors clients and staff and volunteers meet weekly to plant, tend and harvest in the garden, but also to share resources, provide support and check in with our graduates about their progress and struggles.
GREEN REENTRY JOB TRAINING
Lacouture said they focused the Green Reentry Program on trees because tree service is year-round work and pays a living wage, and planting trees can improve the community.
“We learned the concept of tree equity, or inequity, that there are big differences in the amount of tree canopies in neighborhoods around Providence and everywhere and that it correlates with socioeconomic levels and race,” she said. “Urban street trees help cool neighborhoods and lessen the effects of climate change. And over many years of future training programs, we hope to increase the tree canopy in the Silver Lake neighborhood, with the guidance of our awesome partner, the Providence Neighborhood Planting Program.”
ONE|NB Community Organizer Stephanie Moniz spoke to the graduates as a member of the board of Garden Time and as a participant in its program when she was incarcerated.
“I want you to know there is so much value in your stories,” said Moniz, who read from her self-published book “Resilient Mr. Ball.” “There is so much value in your experiences, and when you leave from here, don’t be afraid to show up and be your full self because that’s what you’re going to add to your community, that’s what you’re going to add to your workplace. And every time you have to start over, you’re starting over with new experience, and now you have a whole new community with you to help you along your way.”
Graduate Steven Mitchell read some poetry he had written about the program, and Cassie Tharinger, from Providence Neighborhood Planting Program, handed the graduates badges as they became members of Providence’s “community tree-keeper ranks.”
THANKS to Stephen Ide and One Neighborhood Builders for the story. See more photos at https://oneneighborhoodbuilders.org/formerly-incarcerated-men-women-get-new-chance-through-green-reentry/.
For more information or for a paper copy of the application email firstname.lastname@example.org or text or call (401) 996-4922.