Preparing Women for Jobs While Developing “Green Thumbs” at Gadsden
“Gardening isn’t just a profession, says Xaviera Rutherford, “it’s also therapy. It helps relieve stress. It clears your mind. You’re connecting with nature. And in the process of that, you kind of connect with yourself.”
The Gadsden Correctional Facility, in Quincy, FL, offers the horticulture program to interested residents. Those who complete the program, like Ms. Rutherford, become certified by the Florida Nursey Growers and Landscape Association.
“Well, I definitely plan on using this certificate for a professional job when I go home,” says Ms. Rutherford.
“I’ve learned everything from planting seeds to germinating them. Part of the certification is practical, and that’s working out in the gardens and in the classroom, and the Quonset, in the greenhouse. We learn how to grow interior plantscapes. We learn everything from plants to water demand. You just learn every aspect of it. I’m very grateful for our teacher, Ms. Arnold. She’s an amazing teacher.”
Donna Arnold is the instructor for Gadsden’s horticulture program.
“They like to come to the class because it gives peace of mind,” she explains. “I give them an environment that is welcoming. I treat them like humans and give them a nice, relaxing environment that makes their life a little better.”
Part of the program at Gadsden is the beautiful yard work kept up at the facility.
“I don’t think I’ve ever given a tour where someone hasn’t actually commented on the grounds,” says Warden Jerry Buscher. “And they take pride in that program, and the ladies love it. They do get a certificate when they’re done. Yeah, it’s a great program.”
“I’m very grateful,” says Ms. Rutherford. “Our warden and all the administrative staff here at Gadsden, they are so supportive. They stop by all the time, they tell us how good of a job we do. They comment constantly on our flowers. Sometimes you just see the staff walking around, and looking at the beds, and it just gives you a good feeling, because you know that they really do appreciate the things that we’re doing here.”
About Gadsden Correctional Facility
Gadsden Correctional Facility is accredited by the American Correctional Association—
achieving 100% compliance for both mandatory and non-mandatory standards in
its most recent audit. Other accreditations and certifications include the Correctional
Education Association and the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).