New gardening program sprouts at Garland County Detention Center

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GARLAND COUNTY, Ark. – The Garland County Detention Center is sprouting a new program. The Master Gardeners built a green house on the property and are now teaching classes for inmates.

At the Garland County Detention Center orange is the new green. Inside their green house Master Gardeners teach inmates the basics like pouring soil, planting seeds, re-potting plants, and making sure they’re well watered. This program is more than just sprouting fruits and vegetables.

“We try and curve our programs to help build a better community,” Chief Deputy of Corrections Steven Elrod said.

Elrod says getting your hands dirty can keep your mind clean.

“Gardening in and of itself can actually lower stress levels, it’s very therapeutic, it can lower blood pressure even,” Elrod said.

It’s also a great way to give those behind bars job experience.

“If we can give these inmates skills and resources so they can get out in the community and be productive citizens. We’re going to have fewer victims, less crime and a much safer community,” Garland County Detention Center Operations Director Belinda Cosgrove said.

While the inmates watch their plants bloom, they start to grow themselves.

“It’s just that hands in the dirt, the way that we were created that somehow helps us reconnect with nature, reconnect with our creator and helps us find a balance in our lives,” Master Gardener Marty Lynch said.

Only low risk inmates are in the class. Everything is pre-cut and inmates don’t have access to tools. A corrections officer is in the class at all times.

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