A Garden at the Billy Moore Facility is Growing More than Just Food

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The Billy Moore Correctional Center in Overton, Texas grows a garden, cared for by residents and overseen by staff. The food is donated to the community.

“It’s given to the food bank of Rusk County,” says Christy Henshaw, the officer who supervises the gardeners. “And some of it is also being delivered to the Lighthouse [nonprofit organization] in Overton.”

The food includes peas, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, Brussel sprouts, watermelons, and cantaloupe.

“I think it’s a good idea to take these skills for the offenders and teach them how to grow something,” explains Officer Henshaw, “and be able to donate it and put it out there into the community. So not only are they learning, but they’re also helping out somebody else.”

“I’ve been in the system for almost ten years,” says resident Bradley Oates. “I haven’t done anything for the community. But this is a great opportunity to help out.”

Alfredo Rodriguez agrees. “I really enjoy it because it’s therapeutic. It’s a way for us to get out of the dorm and get some sunshine, get some exercise. And it’s affected me personally, because it’s a good feeling to be out here and work hard and give back to the community.”

“It’s impacted my life by working as a team,” Arnoldo Villalpando says from inside the greenhouse. “We keep up with the greenhouse. We’ve brought [the plants] up since babies.”

“It’s taught me teamwork,” Bradley Oates states. “Hard work pays off. If you look at the garden, it’s doing real well, and we all came together as a team, and we worked hard. And [Officer Henshaw’s] taught us a lot about growth and plants.”

“I think it’s a good idea,” concludes Alfredo Rodriguez, “it’s a way for offenders to give back; a way to feed people who actually need help.  It gives us a good feeling knowing that we’re doing that for somebody.”