In April 2022 we began a garden in an unused lot behind the Vocation Building.
Starting with 58 men, we prepared the ground, installed an irrigation system, germinated seeds, planted, nurtured and harvested our first crop of vegetables - over 400 summer squash. Some of the produce went to the kitchen at MCI and other items were donated to local homeless shelters and outreach agencies and some were cooked in our kitchen for the gardeners to enjoy.
Now in 2023 Phase 2 is underway with 1500 sweet potato plants and 400 yellow squash plants along with a small community garden where the men planted tomatoes, lettuce, peanuts, watermelon, and peppers, along with various other items. When the men harvest the community garden they will have the opportunity to learn about preparing, storing and serving the items they have grown.
In addition to the practical work of the garden, classroom instruction is provided by professionals and Master Gardeners. The men learn about types of plants, their suitable environments and care needed, weeds and pests and how to control them, and more.
The program has been so successful, the Administration has provided an additional acre lot for us to develop. They have also asked us to open up the participation in the project to the entire compound so men who are not in our program can work side by side with our guys (and who knows how God will use that interaction!)
The earth produced vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their kind.... and God saw that it was good." Genesis 1:12