After researching food allocation and prisons, Dr. Everhardt and Dr. Carmody created a partnership program with the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Alabama.
The TROY-Tutwiler Garden Program, started in January 2019, is an educational program for female inmates run by Dr. Everhardt and Dr. Carmody, along with hands-on student involvement. The program was created to teach inmates about horticulture and nutrition through 15-week Fundamentals of Gardening Classes held every Wednesday, year-round.
Troy University offers a certificate of completion for those inmates that finish the 15-week class.
This TROY-Tutwiler Garden Program is a win-win for both students and inmates. During
the classes, the inmates have access to healthy food and obtain skills that could
help them secure employment upon release. And, the students involved, which is typically
one to two at a time, are extremely hands on in data collection, curriculum development,
teaching garden and nutrition classes, gardening with the inmates, promoting the program
Making a Difference
This program is a lifeline for the women at Tutwiler Prison. After they join the program, a commitment is made to educate and support them. This commitment continues after they are released. The goal is to make the women productive members of society that never return to prison.
Around 60 inmates have participated in this program since it started, and there are success stories to tell about. One story in particular is about an inmate that left Tutwiler Prison in January 2020. She had completed the 15-week Fundamentals of Gardening Class and earned a Certificate of Completion from Troy University. She secured employment, a home and a car. She is still in contact with the program and is now considering going to college with encouragement from those in the program.
Quote from Warden Wright
“The implementation of the Gardening Program at Tutwiler has been beneficial in many aspects. The program has had a transformative effect on the women as they’re able to experience the process of growth first-hand, nurturing plants from seed to harvest. I have witnessed the garden’s rejuvenative power, providing our women with a sense of responsibility and pride in their work. We are very appreciative of Troy University and its staff for facilitating the program. My hope is that the Tutwiler Garden Program will continue to grow and expand, and allow more interested women to participate.”
Quote from Warden Drake
“The Gardening Program at Tutwiler has been a breath of life for our inmates. Since COVID-19, our inmates have really taken ownership of the garden and eagerly look forward to TROY’s staff and students coming to provide instruction. I have seen inmates pour themselves into the garden and their work. They’ve watched the results that wind, rain, and sunshine can have on the garden’s overall health, and make necessary adjustments along the way to provide care to the growing plants — very similar to the personal growth adjustments they are working on in their own lives. Our inmates have a lot of pride in the garden, which is reflected in its name, “The Garden of Perseverance.”
Quote from Captain Davis
“The partnership between Julia Tutwiler Prison for women and Troy university has had
a major and long-lasting impact upon all of us. In the Alabama Department of Corrections,
our job is to help rehabilitate those individuals in our care, and The Garden of Perseverance
has done just that and so much more. The garden has even helped our staff better understand
the Department’s overall mission by providing a bird’s eye view into effective inmate
rehabilitation. The garden is viewed as a trope, akin to real-world applications of
the old adage, ‘You get out of the world what you put into it.’ I am grateful to the
team at Troy university and the dedicated garden staff for showing me an up-close-and-personal
life lesson, and for reigniting a fire in my own life to better serve our community.”
Initially, the USDA provided some funds to start the program, however now the TROY-Tutwiler Garden Program is only funded through donations. If you would like to help this program, you can designate your contribution to this program through the annual fund.