Women's Prison Gardens

Course Description: 

Students in this Capstone will review, research and reflect on the impact of the incarceration of women, the unique needs of female inmates and the diversity of individuals in correctional facilities through structured activities, required readings, video, dialogue and reflective writing. Through the study of existing prison garden programs, students will develop a model for a garden program at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility and identify available resources and potential community partners. Working in teams, students will create a presentation on one aspect of a prison garden program.

Students will have the option of working in the prison garden to meet the community service requirement of this course. The facility is 20 minutes from Portland and carpooling will be available. Any student wishing to work in the garden will be required to fill out a form for a Department of Corrections background check during the first week of class. Students choosing not to work in the prison garden will be asked to complete other service work related to the class topic.

Course Objectives:

  • Develop an understanding of the impact of the incarceration of women on individuals, families, communities and the environment.
  • Develop an understanding of the diversity of individuals in correctional facilities; bring some humanity to the idea of "prisoner."
  • Engage in higher level and critical thinking dialogue with colleagues around issues regarding women in prisons.
  • Work collaboratively with fellow students, inmates and Department of Corrections employees.
  • Develop a model for a prison garden program that addresses the unique needs of women inmates.
  • Engage in work that is meaningful and become an agent of change by making contributions that impact individuals and communities.
  • Create a presentation that communicates the proposed garden program model and its potential impact.

Please contact Debbie Rutt at debrutt@pdx.edu for further information.

Project Description: 

Work teams will develop a proposed model for one aspect of a prison horticultural program and give a presentation on that model. Suggested topics include:

  • Vocational training program enabling inmates to find work related to horticulture upon release.
  • Horticultural therapy program utilizing garden space for inmates to receive therapeutic treatment for addiction and other mental health issues.
  • Recycling program for prison.
  • Children's garden program for prison's Even Start and Early Head Start programs.
  • Business model for selling produce/value added products from prison garden at a local farmer's market to raise funds for garden.
  • Research and develop a plan for starting a CSA that employs women and provides job skills transitioning from prison.
  • Construct a blog or website for the prison garden.