21 July 2008

"Sowing Seeds for a New Future"

Last Saturday when Steph was visiting we spent part of the morning in Salt Lake City's Pioneer Park checking out the weekend Farmers' Market. One stand in particular caught our eyes.



The vegetables looked nice enough, but the person taking the money was wearing a Sheriff's Office uniform. Upon closer examination, we learned that this stand was operated and filled with produce grown and harvested by incarcerated persons from the Salt Lake County Metro Jail.



The guys we chatted with (after making sure it was okay with their custodians) were knowledgable about their produce and the program. They said that they've got two and a half acres in the jail compound upon which they've been growing their crops for the last two years. They're working toward a three-year "organic" certification through the Utah State University Extension program which they expect to have next year. In order to participate in the Jail Horticulture Program, the incarcerated person must complete a "Gardner's Certificate" through the Extension office. The program motto is "Sowing Seeds for a New Future."



It appears that Salt Lake County is trying to do a little something to allow some of its incarcerated persons to improve themselves and give back a little to the community.

I believe we all benefit from the Jail Horticulture Program.

6 comments:

mary(Crone) said...

This is really cool. Way better than license plates. :-)

Mark said...

I think you're right. :-) And in the particular case, Mary, these guys took a piece of hard, baked dirt and actually spent a season or two just preparing it before they actually tried growing anything on it.

Anonymous said...

I think this is a great way to give back to society. the question is what society took from them in the first place or what they never received from society...

Mette said...

sorry the last comment was from me Mette the crazy dane...

Mark said...

Mette! Thanks. :-) And you ask good questions of us, as a society. One of the young men we spoke to seemed so happy and well-adjusted in the context of being around his beloved vegetables. I didn't ask why he was in jail, but I wondered about him. And I hoped he'd do well when back out in "the real world."

Stephanie said...

Mettie!!! Leave it to you to ask the socialist question on our food blog! Well, as Mark said, it is a very good question and I suppose the answer depends on whether you believe that a country's incarcerations are a failure on society's part or a failure on the individual's part. I happen to think the former but I would guess that many would disagree.

I think our government robs many good people of their education and the opportunities that are afforded with it. It also leaves the country's economic crises in the hands of taxpayers to clean up, while profits continue to be privatized. The corporate criminals never go to jail (and I guess we have to get that free labor from somewhere).

It should be no surprise then that over 2/3 of the US prison population is made up of racial minorities and 4/5 is made up of people from the lower classes. This to me is one of the most tragic failures of American society.

All that said, I think this program is a really good form of rehabilitation and re-entry back into civilian life for someone who has been doing time for committing a crime. These guys were really cool and were really proud of what they had grown. They were so eager to talk about how good their stuff tasted and how we should cook it. It's so cute to see macho guys get all passionate about vegetables. Hee.