County Executive Calvin Ball was joined by Howard EcoWorks to visit the Department of Corrections’ native plant nursery for their annual sale. The native plant sale is part of the Seeds of Change program, providing education and vocational training to detention center inmates to grow and maintain a native plant nursery. The plant sale is open Friday, October 9 and Saturday, October 10, between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Video from the event can be found here. Photos can be found here.
“The innovative Seeds of Change program provides an inmate education program and vocational training to improve future job prospects and is one of many diverse enrichment activities we provide to meet our goal of reduced recidivism,” said County Executive Calvin Ball. “Since the start of this program in 2016, more than 100 inmates have interacted directly with the nursey, and 36 inmates have participated in the sustainable landscape class. Thanks to Howard EcoWorks and their collaboration, this annual native plant sale provides residents an incredible opportunity to support Seeds of Change and move Howard County towards a cleaner and more sustainable environment.”
Seeds of Change is an environmental and workforce development program at the Howard County Department of Corrections. In 2016, EcoWorks established an on-site native plant nursery operation where inmates learn about nursery operation and plant propagation. The plants are used in EcoWorks’ environmental restoration projects around the County. More than 100 inmates have interacted with the nursery, and inmates have contributed approximately 600 hours of service.
“The Department of Corrections is pleased to partner with Howard EcoWorks on the Seeds for Change Program,” said Jack Kavanagh, Director of the Department of Corrections. “Our inmates gain valuable work experience and are able to assist in improving our environment through the plants grown in the garden. They take great pride in their work.”
An annual class is also held to teach inmates basics of sustainable landscaping skill, which has been completed by 36 inmates, although there was no class in 2020 because of COVID-19. This low-cost, high return on investment program develops job skills and helps reduce recidivism. Psychology and neuroscience research show that nature-based therapy is restorative. Even brief exposure to nature can help to improve physical and mental health and promote cooperative behavior and pro-social values – providing rehabilitative activities to inmates can counteract the bleak, overcrowded, chaotic, and isolating conditions of prison.
“Hope is something in very short supply in places like this, but with programs like this, I was hopeful every day to come out here and plant plants, and water them and watch them grow,” said Timothy Grauel, former inmate at the Howard County Detention Center. “I’m hopeful today that even though I’ve made bad decisions in the past, I can be successful and aspire to be better.”
“We greatly appreciate all of the assistance and support that we have received from Howard County Government,” said Lori Lilly, Executive Director of Howard EcoWorks. “With this event and plant sale, we are kicking off a renewed Seeds of Change program, line of business and fundraising effort to raise awareness for our goals of social and environmental change. We believe that these goals cannot be mutually exclusive, and we want to lead in this effort as a model for our region in collaboration with our local government, non-profits, private entities and other partners that would like to help our seeds of change grow and blossom into the future.”