"Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great
faith in a seed. Convince me you have a
seed there, and I am
prepared to expect wonders."
Insight Garden Program
In collaboration with San Quentin State Prison, the Insight Garden Program (IGP) provides rehabilitation to self-selected prisoners through the process of organic gardening. Through the act of caring for plants, the qualities of responsibility, discipline and mindfulness transfer to the interpersonal realm — by growing plants, people also "grow."
The IGP's classes include classroom course curricula and hands-on experience in a 1,200-square foot organic flower garden in San Quentin's medium-security prison yard. In our classes, men learn about landscaping and gardening, including (but not limited to): planning, budgeting and design, irrigation, soil amendment, seasonal garden maintenance, and plant ID and propagation.
By working in an organic flower garden, men also become ecologically literate — developing an awareness of their connection to and impact on the world around them. They learn about the interconnectedness of human and ecological systems and how the principles of the natural world, such as diversity and cooperation, transfer to all levels of human systems.
This approach of "re-connection through nature" is integrated with opportunities for personal development. Because nature cultivates awareness, men learn to respond rather than react — and become productive members of society when they leave prison.
In the fall of 2013, the Insight Garden Program will be expanding to Solano State Prison in Vacaville, CA.
Bridging the Divides that Surround Us
Though some men may leave prison as "changed people," continuing to cultivate their interpersonal skills, finding meaningful living-wage jobs and reintegrating into society are challenges they face from the moment they step beyond the prison walls.
In 2011, the IGP began providing reentry services through a grant from the East Bay Community Foundation. Participating men receive wrap around services from Rubicon Programs and get immediate part-time work with Planting Justice while we continue to work with them to secure full-time employment. We also provide one-on-one coaching with men returning to any Bay Area county so they become productive, engaged citizens.
How to Help
The IGP is supported by the affectionate generosity of its donors for services, supplies and general operation and for plans to provide program expansion and post-release services. If you would like to help our work continue, we gratefully accept all contributions, monthly or annual pledges, bequests or other gifts.
IGP gratefully welcomes credit card donations and checks made out to the Insight Garden Program. Checks can be sent to PO Box 441, San Quentin, CA 94964-0441.
For more information, please feel free to contact: Beth Waitkus at 415-854-0067
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