Jackie Brackett

Juvenile Detention Center Garden

   Growing up with a garden at her CMSD school and in her parents’ backyard instilled an appreciation in Jackie Brackett which now benefits many in the Cuyahoga County community. After hearing of the Summer Sprout Program, Jackie and her colleagues at the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center applied to begin a garden. OSU Extension provided soil testing, amendments, and direction as Jackie’s co-workers and community volunteers converted a space on the Detention Center’s property. 

       

   “I wanted the youth to know that this was a new beginning for them... that the garden is a place where you can free your mind, become self-sustainable... and have the opportunity toleave out of our facility with some skills,” says Jackie. In a center where youth may not have a window, or be permitted outside, the garden offers unique experience working with soil and feeling the breeze. With safety and care among the Center’s chief goals, Jackie and her gardners must be creative and think outside the box. “They use their hands for planting and weeding,” says Jackie, because the youth cannot have access to shovels, trowels, tomato cages, or other tools many take for granted. To support tomato plants, the gardeners tied vines to chainlink fences. Office staff and grounds crew also benefit by the “encouraging sunflowers” out their windows or by gifts of produce to take home. Staff and youth alike speak highly of the garden as a stress reliever. At the end of a garden workday, youth are encouraged to share what they’ve learned. Some have said that starting a garden at home will help them stay out of trouble or that selling vegetables door-to-door will provide income for their home, just like Jackie did when she was in middle school years ago.