Gardening & The Prison System

Building for the future with skills training, stress relief and develop an appreciation for the best vegetables available

Like many other group quarters, incarceration facilities have people sharing a common space and a lot of time to fill up with worthwhile activities. One of these activities could and should be gardening. What can gardening do to help the time pass quickly while adding a benefit to everyone? Let’s explore…

  • Community – a shared or common purpose can bring people from very different backgrounds together. This community can last beyond the time served and can also extend outside the four walls of the facility – both during and after incarceration
  • Sustainability – prisons are not necessarily known for having the best soil or for having extra of anything. An Eco Garden can be a great investment in this – with a life span of 20+ years, being elevated and able to be placed on any flat surface (hardscape is actually preferred) and the ability to reduce water use by 65% all play into creating a sustainable activity for everyone
  • Performance – like an urban setting, space can be at a premium for a prison facility. Each 4’x6’ Original Garden (a 39” tall raised garden bed) can produce as much as a 4’x12’ in-ground plot. This is accomplished through our innovative ecosystem (see below) that creates the opportunity to maximize plant growth and production per square foot

With the right level of dedication – both from an investment of resources and time – any facility can begin to provide the freshest food to their kitchen, the outside world or simply for fresh consumption by the gardeners. Being made in the USA is a nice bonus – our raised garden beds are fabricated in Little Falls, MN using a technology that makes our gardens durable, safe to use right out of the box and a marvel of combining the art and science of growing plants.

Why would my facility want to offer gardening to our inmates?

One of the biggest aspects of gardening is the 24/7/365 nature of how an avid gardener approaches their craft. From garden planning to variety and seed selection to soil preparation and care to planting, nurturing and harvesting, gardening is a continuous process – especially if you elect to split your gardens into indoor and outdoor groupings.

Additionally, there have been multiple studies on the health impact of gardening. A 2016 compilation of the results of ~76 studies shows several key benefits:

  • Stress and anxiety relief
  • Connections between people can alleviate social anxiety and create not only a shared sense of purpose but a community
  • Exercise – 30-minute stretches of gardening are good for the entire body
  • Dirt Therapy – there is scientific proof that digging in the soil can help increase the healthy bacteria the body needs to thrive
  • Mission – something to look forward to every day creates a positive reason to get the day started

Another aspect could be the re-connection with the outside world. Whether through Farmer’s Markets, CSA’s or donations to local food banks, helping the people in your facility interact with folks outside the four walls can create a viable future path for when they are released.

Gardening is a learned skill – my people may not have this skill

The Eco Garden System is designed to be simple to start and easy to use. Assemble each garden (30-45 minutes), position and fill the garden with growing matter and water (15 minutes), plant your seeds (15 minutes) and you are all set – the hard part is done. With as little as two minutes of watering each day, your seeds will sprout and reach maturity up to two times faster than in traditional gardens. The Perforated Soil Platform, Water Reservoir (~74 gallons) and the Air Gap all work in synchronization to keep the soil moist and super charge plant growth (insert Concordia greenhouse image).

As your residents learn more, the gardens will become more efficient – but each beginner can quickly feel like a master gardener when using an Eco Garden – they are that easy to use.

We have limited space – don’t gardens require a lot of room?

In-ground gardens do require a lot of room as well as a perfect environment for the plants as each plant will compete for resources. With our raised garden beds, competition for resources is eliminated as the tap root will grow through the soil platform and into the reservoir – providing “always on” access to moisture. In addition, moisture will leach into the soil above the platform creating a perfect growing environment. Combine this with the Air Gap – the moisture rich layer of air between the platform and the reservoir – and you get supercharged plant growth and enhanced fruit production.

This means you can get the same production out of a 4’ x 6’ space as you would normally get out of a 4’ x 12’ space. Also, since the garden can be placed on any flat surface (even cement or asphalt), you can maximize unused space. Finally, as many prisons are not in the best areas for growing things, our system is a solution for the “too’s”: too hot, too dry, too wet, soil is too bad, etc. In arid climates especially, the water reservoir does not evaporate into the air and waste the moisture – instead it moves into the soil and helps maximize plant growth while saving 65% of water use.

How many will work for my facility and what will it cost?

An Eco Garden Systems’ Original Garden is an investment– a 20+ year investment that will pay you and your facility back over and over (did we mention that our gardens have a UV stabilizer that keeps them from deteriorating in the sun?). This investment will begin paying dividends as quickly as you can get your seeds to sprout.

How many gardens you need sort of depends on your facility and your desire to truly engage. The Eco Garden Systems is designed to be scalable – four gardens is a great start (and all can be connected to a single sprinkler controller for automation) for any rooftop, hardscape or other setting but we recommend a complete plan that will allow you to quickly and easily scale up from there as 20+ gardens would be a wonderful way to create a manageable program. Interested in getting your garden started?  Learn about the value of the Eco Garden raised bed garden system.

The Eco Gardens Systems “Eco System”

What makes our product unique on the market? We have compiled an entire segment on the Eco Garden Eco System.

Finally, our product is proudly fabricated and assembled in the United States – in fact, our plant is located in a small town in Central Minnesota – creating sustainable jobs in manufacturing, order processing, supply chain and fulfillment.

If you are seeking ways to help the people in your facility prepare for life after they have paid their debt, gardening can be a wonderful and healthy way to invest time and energy. If your goal is to combine this with a “fresh” and healthy lifestyle “fresh”, we want to work with you to get our Original Gardens working for your team.  How can we help you transform your facility into an agricultural destination for others to model after.

Where can I download a brochure?

We have created a brochure especially for Community Centers like yours who want to embrace gardening. View our eMagazine Eco Garden System for Prisons for specs and benefits for your industry. Contact us to talk about your needs or place your order!

Our Partners

    Our System

    The original Eco Garden will transform the way you garden. Quick and simple to setup, sustainable, and efficient — this garden is for any level of gardener.

    Who We Are

    Started in 2016, Eco Garden Systems has a long history of gardening, gardening innovation and gardening for seniors.

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