North Central’s Horticulture Residents Be”Leaf” in Their Ability to Change
At the North Central Correctional Complex in Marion, OH, the horticulture program is just one of many rehabilitative programs offered. Resident Ron Hendrickson is one of many residents whose life was changed as a result of the program.
“I love being outside, being outdoors, so having the chance to learn all this stuff about pests and management and all the vegetables that we grow out here and how we help the community by donating the vegetables we grow, it’s just an opportunity you can’t have anywhere else here. I really enjoy it.”
Ron began as a student in the program and is now a certified master horticulturist. Now, he works with facility staff and fellow residents to care for the facility gardens, where all the food grown is either used by the facility or donated to their local food bank.
“We get feedback from them how much they appreciate it, especially during COVID to be able to give fresh fruits and vegetables to people out there who could definitely use it during that time, and with the prices of everything going up to be able to give that to them for free, it’s definitely a blessing for them and for us.”
Ron has found gardening to be therapeutic and a way to motivate himself to become better.
“[It’s] the kind of environment where I’m outside around guys who have like the desires and around the plants, it brings about a little more peaceful environment than you have back anywhere else on the compound. And not only that, but it gave me something to look forward to every day and something to look forward to when I get out, to do when I go outside of prison someday.”
Gardening also connects him to his family.
“My family all grows vegetables and fruits out there, so I get to talk to them about that and what I’m doing and what they’re doing, and it helps me relate with them better, too.”
Programs such as North Central’s horticulture program help instill hope and teach residents valuable skills that can help them throughout their sentence or navigate life when they are eventually released.
“If I don’t have something that I’m looking forward to or somebody doesn’t have something they’re looking forward to [when they get] out, or some knowledge of something in any type of field you want, you’re interested in, then I go out there not knowing what I want to do or not having any plans to do anything and that leads right back to a pattern of you know, what we did before. It gets us going back into something that we did before that wasn’t so good, so it’s definitely very important.”
Ron is grateful for the chance he has had to learn through the program with the help of instructors and peers. “…There’s just a wealth of knowledge I’ve learned in here.”