Local Gardens of Hope

The New York Times calls the products of The Garden Project—the fruits and vegetables—”metaphors for what went wrong in a prisoner’s troubled past, lessons about how to live a healthy and honorable life…” Since 1992 Cathrine Sneed has been helping those incarcerated and recently released from prison find the value and joy of gardening.

The Garden Project provides job training and support to former offenders through counseling and assistance in continuing education, while also impacting the communities from which they come.

This project’s mission started with a small garden built at a San Francisco County Jail. Here Sneed helped prisoners engage in the cooperative effort of growing food. Making a difference, even on such a small scale, excited participants, and helped them feel a part of a productive activity.

The next step came when she realized that this experience did not have the potential to change the lives that awaited outside of prison. Cathrine Sneed took on this project with the same innovation as the prison garden. Initially, she and a group of ex-prisoners would meet each Saturday to plant trees around San Francisco. She then transformed a vacant lot into a garden producing vegetables for local restaurants. Since then the Garden Project has continued to grow, adding an intensive 38-week training program for minority adults, which allows participants to earn a wage, continue their education, build life skills, and contribute to the community through environmental projects.

Cathrine Sneed’s work with the Garden Project is creating a model for crime-prevention and rehabilitation depending on inclusion and education. Her innovative work is giving those most marginalized a chance to work together successfully.

The Schumacher Center, in collaboration with Orion Society and Berkshire Grown, is hosting Cathrine Sneed. This event will be held on Tuesday, the 29th of April at 7:30 pm at the First Congregational Church in Great Barrington, MA. Tickets are 5 BerkShares/dollars at the door.

The full text of Sneed’s 1995 Annual E. F. Schumacher Lecture is available on our website.