Last year, one of the ‘outside facilitators’ brought in a honeybee inside a jar to show the prisoner participants at HMP. They had not been outdoors in the sunshine for weeks. It was amazing to see their faces as they held the jar, listened to the bee vibrating through the glass and then seeing their delight as we released it to forage on the hundreds of dandelions that were growing inside the prison walls. The freedom that the bee represented gave hope to everyone for a better place in the community–and that’s always our hope for all of the participants.
Phoenix Garden Project is amazing and is centered inside the men’s prison (Her Majesty’s Penitentiary) in St John’s NL. It is coordinated by 12 volunteers (outside gardeners) who go inside the prison each Monday afternoon and meet with participants–or ‘inside gardeners’ as they like to be called. Two years ago, we raised enough funding to build a 27-foot Sun Valley cedar greenhouse, and it’s stunning. We also have picnic tables for programming (the guys earn a gardening certificate after they complete an 8- module curriculum that we designed) and we also designed (with the guys) a $25,000 meditation garden–a fantastic walking spiral that is going to be planted this spring. The meditation garden is an enormous stone pathway (in a spiral shape) with 5 granite benches along the way for arts-based gardening projects (creative writing, mindfulness, photography, etc) The centre of the spiral is a large birdbath that is seated in flagstone and concrete. It’s truly beautiful. We are really excited about the possibility to be part of this, and would happily contribute some kind of donation, although we are a non-profit with the John Howard Society as our partner organization.