Friday, May 17, 2024

Feel Good Friday - Insight Garden Program

Spring is in the air, what a great time to learn about Insight Garden Program, an organization that teaches gardening skills to people in prison. 

Founded in 2002 and headquartered in Berkeley, California, Insight Garden Program (IGP) began as a collaboration with the Insight Prison Project at San Quentin State Prison. Their mission is “to facilitate an innovative curriculum combined with vocational gardening and landscaping training so that people in prison can reconnect to self, community, and the natural world.”

IGP knows in-prison programming and reentry support are crucial to help people in prison reintegrate into society and prevent recidivism. They take a restorative, collaborative and participatory-centered approach to their curriculum. The “inner gardener” classes use tools such as meditation and emotional process work, while the “outer gardening” classes teach people the basics of organic gardening and ecological systems. This combination is transformational for people in the program. In this 9-minute video program participants in San Quentin are interviewed about their experience. One man asks himself, “If this rose can grow in these harsh conditions, why can’t I?”.

Part of the success of IGP depends on partnering with like-minded non-profit organizations as well as other correctional facilities or state correctional systems interested in programs that end ongoing cycles of incarceration. IGP works with these partners to train new facilitators to provide weekly classes as well as providing ongoing technical assistance. Since the first program in San Quentin, IGP has expanded and now operates in eleven prisons across California serving men, women and youth.

The impact of all this gardening has been a recidivism rate of less than 10% for program participants, which IGP estimates has saved $40 million for the state of California and its taxpayers.

If you’d like to support Insight Garden Program and their work to help people in prison reconnect to self, community, and the natural world, there are many ways to do so. Volunteer your time, donate your money and help more people find out about this program. Follow IGP on Facebook and Instagram and amplify their message on social media.

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