On November 19, after nearly a year and a half of planning, grant writing, and collaboration, the Juvenile Justice Center’s Garden Project launched in the concrete courtyard outside one of the detention units. This project has been student driven in every regard. Our former students, who are now detained at our sister school, Log Cabin Ranch, designed, constructed, and ultimately installed five redwood raised beds, which will serve as the foundation for phase one of the garden. These young men were just as professional as any paid team we could have hired: they were donned in construction overalls, tool belts, and hard hats and they worked together collaboratively.
Thank you for listening.
Ms. Walker, Ms. Mercurio, and Mr. Neil
The Meaning of the Garden
This phenomenal opportunity to acquire this miniature garden is more than appreciated. It’s more of a blessing to those of us that have taken advantage of the little wonders in life. Plants are one of these wonders. Since I’ve been incarcerated, I have been more appreciative of the little things in life such as these plants. These plants give me a reason to believe that I am worth something while they grow each and every day because of my care and love. It may be silly to some to have so much passion about a plant, but to me, it means more. Having these plants has taught me to protect, love, and care for myself, and this is something that I have not done for myself before. So, if I can love, care, and protect a plant, why can’t I do the same for myself and other people such as my mother. I’ve learned responsibility and patience while taking care of this little piece of life. My sister is eleven years old and she depends on me such as the plant depends on me. This plant has allowed me to take the carefulness, patience, experience, and love as a gift that I can apply to my everyday life with passion, courage, and love. I am more than thankful for these plants because without them I wouldn’t have found these feelings, this joy, and motivation in life to make each day count. Thank you.
My name is Jacqueline, but they call me Tualah. My daddy gave me that name before he died. I’ve made bad mistakes in my life and I take responsibility for my actions. In here, juvenile hall is a place where we come to reflect on our actions and better ourselves. In that process, I know all these kids in here are lonely and need at least something to trust in. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a person, maybe a thing. We are in a place where we don’t have family and we don’t know many people who we can confide in here. I know having a beautiful garden will help us to open our mind and shed some light in this dark period of time. For me, having a plant that I can take care of helps me to understand my responsibilities and learn to be more responsible. Thank you for providing for us the money and opportunity to have something we can look at that is both beautiful and helpful.
I want to see something beautiful come from this ugly situation. I would love to see florescent, vibrant colors somewhere among all this white, gray and faded purple that fills our hours. I want to smell something fresh and good instead of chemicals and body odor.
We have nothing to look forward to in here but the day to get out, so why not grant us this one wish? We long to create something nice to put our time and our creativity into. We want something to feel proud of in this big bad mess. Something as little and simple as a garden could put a smile on our frowning faces and give a little hope that by the time the flowers blossom into something nice and beautiful in this world, we will have changed our lives.
My name is Carey. I have been in YGC for nine months. This garden project was brought up a few months after I got here. I planted a plant along with my other classmates and it was the only one that survived. Unfortunately, it died. But it taught me something very important: life is not full of success and good fortune all the time. Things are going to happen. It represents all of us in this room right now, the teachers, counselors, and yes, the Senator.
I’ll admit I was sad when it died, but I just planted another one and tried a little harder. I got to correct my mistake and to see something grow that I know I put effort into, and this makes me feel like I accomplished something, no matter how small. But everyone has to start small to achieve big.
What I am trying to say is that a garden would help people try to accomplish something good. Some people might not care, but that is also a part of life. This garden could show these young ladies and gentlemen that they can do things that are good and beneficial without doing it illegally. We may have to be talked to about it, given worksheets or questionnaires to dig deep into our feelings, but it can happen either way.
And who knows, YGC may go out of business one day. Then school and garden clubs would be overflowing.
Dear Sunzilla, please hear me out,
I speak with love, so my intentions, please do not doubt.
My hope is for you to grow tall, healthy, long & strong
Therefore I give thee advice and wisdom by song:
Look to your mother for guidance and support.
stay clean from weeds, thorns, pests, and things of the
sort, for they do not want you to thrive as I do, instead
embrace the rain that will turn into morning dew
Reach to the sun, don’t be afraid
for that is the purpose from God you were made
Some nights may be long, and some days
may be rough, but do not fret, you are built from
Tulips, daisies & baby’s breath
Put them together it makes a great scent.
Sunflowers & Calla Lilies
Put them together and it looks pretty.
All the flowers in the world
Can make one really glow
Looking at flowers is like a show.
All the different scents and colors
I grew up around flowers so it’s all I know.
Putting together a garden makes you feel fresh.
My Thank You Letter to You
When you look at me what do you see? When I look at myself I see nothing. I see a person who has nobody in her world to help her. Everything that I have ever wanted I had to earn by myself. And now I’m glad to see that there’s somebody stepping up to the plate and helping. I just want to say thank you and I wish there were people like you. It’s people like you who keep kids like me staying out of trouble and wanting to learn how to trust people. Because without a little motivation, we can’t achieve the things we say we can’t do. Once again I want to thank you.
What I See….
I see a smile on our young faces.
I see something to look forward towards.
I see what looks like a beautiful idea.
I see the beautiful creations made from our hard working hands.
I see so many different colors in our future garden.
I see something to look forward to.
I see something to take pride in.
There are five seeds that lie beneath the dirt
And to grow, it has to put in a lot of work.
I won’t judge it about how long it takes.
And once it grows
A bunch of flowers
Will awake a beautiful flower.
With an aroma that’s to die for
It smells like perfume
And it will make you want to smell more.
So, don’t fret,
And wait for it to grow.
Once you see the birth of a green stem,