Garden fosters rehabilitation at Salinas Valley State Prison

Man holds shovel over fresh garden plot with flowers.
Flowers planted at Facility A yard in Salinas Valley State Prison help further rehabilitation efforts.

Donations, staff volunteers bring first garden to Facility A

By Lt. W. Fonseca

Gardening is brightening rehabilitative efforts for incarcerated people at Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP), thanks to the efforts of staff volunteers and donations from area businesses.

In July 2020, SVSP Warden Matthew Atchley, Community Resource Manager Alma Tamayo, Facility A Capt. Lenard Pennisi, Recreation Therapist (RT) Maxine Sanchez, along with donations from neighboring companies, created a flower garden to provide additional therapy to the incarcerated population on Facility A.

RT Sanchez wanted to introduce a twist on therapeutic remedy by planting a flower garden for those housed on Facility A. The opportunity to care for the flowers gave the incarcerated population a sense of pride and allowed them to see something grow and blossom.

Sanchez said she’s hopeful the incarcerated men on Facility A will see the growth of the flowers and look at their own blossoming and metamorphosis of change and growth.

“The living and growing flowers will be therapeutic, in that as inmates tend to the garden, it will remind the incarcerated of the ‘tending of their own garden’ like changing of one’s own coping skills, behaviors and habits from negative to positive,” Sanchez said. “Being a witness to the growth of these plants and flowers can remind inmates of their own metamorphosis, which can also be a beautiful thing. Growing pains are needed in order to become the men they were intended to be.”

With gracious donations from local Monterey County vendors, the flower garden has brightened Facility A.

The organizers at SVSP expressed gratitude for the donations provided by Ace Hardware (Salinas and Marina), Home Depot (Salinas), and Walmart (Salinas and Marina).

“Without their help, this project would not have been possible,” organizers said.