How North Central’s Horticulture Program is Planting Seeds of Change in Mens’ Lives

Inside the greenhouse at the MTC-operated North Central Correctional Complex in Ohio, Instructor Scott MacCready prepares his students for success.

“We give the gentleman tools,” Scott says, “that when they get out of prison, they can be productive and be able to get hired.”

STILLS Horticulture Instructor
Scott MacCready, instructor.

Gardening is Scott’s passion, and so is helping these men.

“I’m really happy with what I’m doing, and I feel like what I’m doing makes a difference.”

These students are learning to become master gardeners, and that’s exactly what they’ll be once they finish the course, pass four state exams, and receive a state license.

“They never really did well in school before,” adds Scott. “And I’ve talked to the gentleman after they’ve completed my course, and they’re not afraid to take college classes.”

The horticulture program at North Central has a very high success rate and we’re not just talking about learning gardening skills. For the instructor, it’s really about life-long changes.

“I don’t want them to come back to prison. Statistics show that gentleman who complete a one-year program or just one college course, their recidivism rate goes down to very, very low.”

STILLS Horticulture Instructor
Residents learn in the facility’s greenhouse.

Each year, the students grow thousands of pounds of produce. Where does it go?

“Last year we grew 8,500 pounds of produce that we donate to the disadvantaged here in Marion, Ohio.”

The impact of the program is hard to fully capture.

“[It] makes me feel great. It’s very powerful. It really is…especially when I hear success stories. And I hear a lot of success stories here. It makes me feel proud.”

STILLS Horticulture Instructor
Scott teaches a resident.