After several months of scheduling conflicts, we were finally able to have our first gardening class at the Bell County Forestry Camp. It went really well, the class was held in one of the classrooms at the Forestry Camp with six of the inmates and several staff members attending. Stacy White from the Bell County Extension Office taught the class on Beginning gardening.
Stacy began the class by discussing the importance of planning your garden, getting your soil tested and then deciding where to plant your plants. He then opened the class up to questions, the inmates and staff had a lot of questions to ask him about how to control bugs in the garden, why did some plants grow and some didn’t, how much fertilizer and what kind should be used in the garden. We discussed several different methods of dealing with bugs including, Spinosade , Diatomaceous Earth and the good old fashion elbow grease method of pick and squish. Lt. Evans told the inmates, “Listen there boys”, I told you that’s what they would say”, when we mentioned using elbow grease to fix the bug problem. After the question and answer session everyone moved to the garden site. The inmates and staff were extremely proud to show us their gardens and discuss all the hard work that has went into them.
They began their garden with a lot of enthusiasm and very little experience. When I asked them if anyone had ever grown a garden before, they replied, some of us has worked in gardens before. Another inmate said, ” I remember being in the garden with my grandma when I was little watching her hoe the garden, while I was sitting in the garden eating a raw potato.”
Working in this garden has given these men a since of pride and accomplishment in themselves and in their garden. They will be able to take the knowledge they have gained from raising the garden with them when they leave the Forestry Camp, making the old Chinese proverb, “Give a man a fish feed him for a day. Teach the man to fish feed him for a lifetime, true.