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Unexpected green on St. Patrick’s Day

March 20, 2010 Environment, North City, Urban Food Systems 3 Comments

On St. Patrick’s Day I had the opportunity to witness something remarkable in a most unlikely place:

St. Louis’ MSI houses over 750 inmates who stay roughly 80 days.  Built originally for men only, it also has a female section (apprx 10-15% of the total). So what was so remarkable?  Let’s go out back and see.

I couldn’t walk the distance from the front door to the back so they drove me through the gates and series of fences to our destination.

At left is Jerome Fields, the Correctional Program Manager for the City of St. Louis.  The three women in orange are inmates at MSI.  They were all working to take this pile of soil and get it into new garden plots, from the press release:

MSI received a neighborhood greening grant from Gateway Greening for the project.  The grant provides lumber and soil for five 4’ x 20’ x 10” raised beds, one wheelbarrow and one sprinkler.   The garden will be maintained by five to 10 female residents who volunteered for the project, some guards at the facility, along with assistance from Gateway Greening staff and volunteers from Lincoln University and UMSL. The food grown will be donated to two local food pantries:  St. Vincent DePaul and Church of God at Baden.

The facility attempted a garden last year but did so by trying to plant just in the existing ground.

Charles Bryson, Director of Public Safety helped out in the morning.

Cardboard was placed over the grass to kill the grass underneath. The facility tried gardening last year but it failed because they tried planting in the existing ground.

The base of one guard tower will serve as the tool shed for the gardening equipment.  Click here to see the Fox 2 story.

– Steve Patterson


Currently there are "3 comments" on this Article:

  1. retired1 says:

    I know some industrious inmate will start growing some marijuana!

  2. cara marie says:

    steve, this is great! i wonder if you might do a post on us this summer. i started a little garden at the juvenile facility in the city a couple of years ago: http://jdcgarden.blogspot.com/
    wait till we get going, and i'd love you to put us on here 🙂


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