Gardens/Gardens in Prisons

On the Rikers Island GreenHouse program:
"These types of programs not only enhance the environment by increasing the green:asphalt ratio, but growing food near prison sites improves the nutritional intake of the inmates, as well as trains them for green jobs when they get out—a track that when followed has been proven to reduce the rate at which former inmates return to prison. One study in San Francisco showed that 29 percent of prisoners were re-arrested within four months of their release, while only 6 percent of those who partook in a gardening program were re-arrested."
- from"Rikers Island Sprouting Green" by Rachel Cernansky

Gardens in Prisons - scroll down for list of references

Bedford Hills Correctional Facility
Children's Garden (Mother/Child Garden in a prison)
Bedford Hills, NY
For more information on this project, see the MLA thesis by Amy Lindemuth and an article by University of Washington Professor Daniel Winterbottom, both in the References section, listed alphabetically:
Here's an article about the program by Rich Monetti for the Bedford-Katonah Patch, August 16,2010: "Families Host the Children of Bedford Hills Correctional Facility - Summer visitation program helps ease the pain of separation for children of inmates." Link to the article.


Elmore County Correctional Facility
Alabama, USA


Rikers Island GreenHouse Program
New York, USA
Run by the Horticultural Society of New York's GreenHouse program.
Primary subject of James Jiler's Doing Time in the Garden (see full reference below). The program helps current prisoners, too, but the most help is often needed upon a prisoner's release.
Here's a nice blog post about Rikers Island's farm and garden, and here's another really nice one from The City Greens: "Rikers Island Gardening Therapy is Growing," by Suyeon Kim, and another byRachel Cernansky for Planet Green: "Rikers Island Sprouting Green: Gardening Project Helps Ex-Prisoners Plant, Grow, and Not Go Back to Prison."


Eden Project's Place of Change garden
2010 Chelsea Flower Show (silver winner)
A collaboration between the Eden Project and homeless people and prisoners is creating the biggest garden ever to show at Chelsea.
See an article and video about the show at "Homeless people and prisoners to exhibit at the Chelsea Flower Show," by Ian Tucker for the
"This year, the collaboration between the Cornwall-based Eden Project and homelessness umbrella group, Homeless Link, is creating Chelsea's biggest ever show garden, which at nearly 600 sq metres is more than twice the size of a normal plot, and will feature up to 10,000 plants. In addition to the 400 homeless people taking part in the project, 100 prisoners from eight jails are also involved, including prisoners who attend an Eden Growing for Life project at Occombe farm in Devon."
See also "Places of Change wins silver for 500 homeless and disadvantaged gardeners at Chelsea" on the Eden Project website.



Cooper Marcus, Clare (2006). "Life Support: Creating a Prison Hospice Garden." Frameworks (Alumni Magazine of College of Environmental Design, University of California, Berkeley), October.

Helphand, Kenneth (2006). Defiant Gardens: Making Gardens in Wartime. San Antonio: Trinity University Press.
Defiant Gardens are, in the words of the author, "...gardens created in extreme or difficult environmental, social, political, economic, or cultural conditions. These gardens represent adaptation to challenging circumstances, but they can also be viewed from other dimensions as sites of assertion and affirmation." Helphand's book focuses on "Trench Gardens" on the Western Front in WWI, "Ghetto Gardens" in Nazi Europe, "Barbed-Wire Gardens" created by allied prisoners of war and civilian internees in Europe and Asia in the World Wars, gardens in Japanese internment camps in the United States during WWII, and gardens following WWII.

Kenneth Helphand's website, also called Defiant Gardens, includes information from the book, and also brings these gardens into the present, encompassing prison gardens, community gardens, and gardens in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and even Guantanamo.
Note: At the time of this entry, the website seems to be down. We hope it's a temporary glitch. The url is
Listen to an NPR story about the book.
Read a Therapeutic Landscapes Network Blog post about Defiant Gardens and veterans' gardens.

Jiler, James (2006). Doing Time in the Garden: Life Lessons Learned Through Prison Horticulture. Oakland, CA: New Village Press.
Order the book from the New Village Press Website.

Jiler, James (2009). "Restoring Lives, Transforming Landscapes: The GreenHouse Program at Rikers Island Jail" in Wiesen, Anne and Lindsay Campbell (2009). Restorative Commons: Creating Health and Well-Being through Urban Landscapes. Newtown Square, Pennsylvania: USDA Forest Service.
Click HERE to view or download the pdf. You can also order the entire book from the USDA Forest Service website.

Laichter, Alison (2008). "Reentry and the Role of Bridged Programming: Reconnecting Former Prisoners and Their Communities." Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree
Master of Science in Urban Planning. Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University.
Click HERE to view or download the PDF.

Lindemuth, Amy L. (2011). "Can Prison Landscapes be Secure, Restorative, and Sustainable?" Guest post for the Therapeutic Landscape Network Blog, 1/6/11.

Lindemuth, Amy L. (2006). "SOU Courtyard Garden: Designing a Therapeutic Environment for Corrections Staff and Mentally Ill Offenders." Master of Landscape Architecture Thesis, University of Washington 2006. This is a design thesis and includes design of a real site at a prison in Washington state with literature and historical review.

Lindemuth, Amy L. (2007). "Designing Therapeutic Environments for Inmates and Prison Staff in the United States: Precedents and Contemporary Applications." Journal of Mediterranean Ecology, Vol. 8: 87-97. Click here to view the paper.
Abstract: American correctional facilities are stressful social environments within stark institutional settings. Although these settings are experienced by millions of inmates and staff every day and have negative effects on health, the restorative and therapeutic benefits that the architecture and landscape could provide are rarely given careful consideration by designers and other individuals involved in their planning, construction, or administration. Research has shown that gardens and natural settings can be physically and psychologically beneficial for inmates and prison staff in terms of reducing stress and alleviating mental fatigue. While gardens have been used in U.S. prisons since at least the 19th century for vocational training and therapy, their design has received little consideration. Further, the design and process of creating a garden with restorative and therapeutic qualities in a prison environment has received little attention in the Landscape Architecture literature. This paper discusses the potential benefits of prison gardens as well as the elements necessary to design, implement, and maintain a successful prison garden project. Research into historic and contemporary precedents of prison gardens is discussed as well as the authorÕs experience developing a design for prison staff and mentally ill inmates within a state facility northeast of Seattle, Washington.

Moore, Ernest O. (1981-82). "A Prison Environment's Effect on Health Care Service Demands." Journal of Environmental Systems, p. 2.

Spafford, Anne M. (1991). "The Prison Landscape and the Captive Audience: Is Nature Necessity or Amenity?" Landscape Architecture, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Tidball, Keith G. and Krasny, Marianne E., Eds. (2011). Greening in the Red Zone: Disaster, Resilience and Community Greening. Springer.
From the Springer website, where you can also order the book: Access to green space and the act of creating green spaces is well understood to promote human health, especially in therapeutic contexts among individuals suffering traumatic events. Less well understood, though currently being studied, is the role of access to green space and the act of creating and caring for it in promoting neighbourhood health and well being as related to social-ecological system resilience. An important implication of Greening in the Red Zone lies in specific instances of greening and the presence of greened spaces in promoting and enhancing recovery, and perhaps resilience, in social-ecological systems disrupted or perturbed by violent conflict or other catastrophic disaster. This edited volume provides illustration and interpretation of these phenomena through a series of cases or examples of Greening in the Red Zone, which will explore how access to green space and the act of creating green spaces in extreme situations might contribute to resistance, recovery, and resilience of social-ecological systems.

West, Marcia J. (1986). "Landscape Views and Stress Response in the Prison Environment," Landscape Architecture, University of Washington, Seattle.


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