Prison garden feeds the needy
Posted November 8, 2013
Smithfield, N.C. — Behind the razor wire and under the guard tower at Johnston Correctional Institute, a 2,500-square-foot oasis exists for prisoners such as Travis Creech.
Creech is in prison for manufacturing methamphetamine. But for a couple of hours a day, Creech tends to the vegetables in the prison’s garden.
“When I’m in these gardens, I’m at home. I’m not in prison,” Creech said.
Creech and a few of his fellow inmates are currently tending to the fall crop, which includes bok choy, mustard greens, and collards.
Thanks to the inmates and the prison garden, hundreds of pounds of fresh food are going to the Interfaith Food Shuttle in Raleigh.
Phil Beaumont, a horticulture instructor at Johnston Community College, is teaching the inmates how to grow all sorts of vegetables in the prison garden.
“These guys are helping the communities where they came from,” Beaumont said.
Johnston Correctional Institute is participating in the Plant a Row for the Hungry Program, a partnership between Logan’s Trading Company and the Inter-faith Food Shuttle. To date, the prison’s garden has produced almost 20,000 pounds of fresh produce for local families.
“A lot of these [men] are in trouble for doing bad, now we give them an opportunity to do good,” Beaumont said.
Needy families aren’t the only one’s benefiting from this program. Creech said working in the garden is preparing him for life on the other side of the fence. He is scheduled to be released next month.
“You plant a seed, you water it and it’ll grow. That’s kind of like life,” Creech said. “You get what you put into it.”
Officials hope to expand the garden next year as the prison converts to a minimum-security facility.