For Insight Garden, every day is Earth Day

Prison Insight Garden Program participants hold plants.
CMF's incarcerated population recently worked in the garden as part of the Insight Garden Program.

Editor’s note: The following piece was written by Karen Hsueh, Deputy Director of the Insight Garden Program.

CMF rejuvenates garden after pause

This month at California Medical Facility, we celebrate Earth Day by planting hardy succulents, colorful sun-loving flowers, and summer vegetables. After four months of closures due to COVID-19, our garden was overrun with weeds.

We’ve been busy pulling those weeds, adding them to our compost pile, so they can decompose into nutrient-rich soil. This is also a great habitat for worms and beneficial microbes. The fresh soil will feed our new plants, creating a bountiful harvest this summer. Like composting in the garden, we learn to take things in our lives no longer serving us and transform them into opportunities for growth.

San Quentin’s medicinal plants

At San Quentin, the group is learning about native and medicinal plants, rediscovering our deep connections with them. Many of the participants remember these plants from their lineage or have memories growing up in relationship with them. One participant recalled his grandmother using the ruda plant to cure earaches and other ailments when he was younger. This month we planted 38 new medicinal plants in the garden. This helps us continue deepening our relations with these plants and our ancestors.

Folsom Women’s Facility grows fresh produce

The women at Folsom Women’s Facility are gearing up for our “Salad Bar Project” this month. We are expecting a summer harvest with nutrient-dense leafy greens, cherry tomatoes, radishes, and carrots. For IGP, this means growing fresh produce and sharing the bounty with participants, and the facility’s incarcerated women and staff.

We use the act of growing food to nourish ourselves and each other, cultivating generosity and kindness. We do this while also creating safe spaces for the entire prison community.

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