I recently had the opportunity to have a long conversation with Sarah Patterson of LettuceGrow.org. This innovative program with its roots in Oregon has the potential to grow into a national movement. OK I'll quit with the puns now, because this unique approach to inmate horticulture programs has more than proven itself in the Oregon Department of Corrections.
In a nutshell it has taken the standard inmate horticulture program and turned it into a certification program with the local university agricultural extension office "Master Gardener" certification program. The Oregon program provides fresh vegetables for the institution food service operation, producing a healthier, less expensive diet.
In addition to the produce, inmates are involved in a 400 hour, nationally recognized certification program. Graduates of the program learn skills they can take back to agriculture, plant nursuries, or their own backyard garden.
You can learn more about this innovative program at www.lettucegrow.org and hear a live presentation by Sarah at this year's National Symposium on Sustainability in Corrections.